Dell, Floyd

Dell, Floyd (James)

(1887–1969) author, editor, social critic; born in Barry, Ill. Growing up in poverty, he joined the Socialist Party at age 16, and worked as a reporter and editor at several publications in Iowa and Chicago (1905–13). His Chicago studio was a gathering place for many of the literary figures who contributed to the "Chicago Renaissance." Moving in 1913 to New York City's Greenwich Village, he edited Masses (1914–17), wrote plays for various left-wing clubs and earned a reputation as a bohemian after an affair with Edna St. Vincent Millay. When the government suspended Masses because of its opposition to America's role in World War I, he was indicted under the Espionage Act (1918) but never convicted. He became an editor of the Liberator (1918–24) and then New Masses (1924–29). He also wrote a succession of novels about those who sacrifice idealistic dreams for conventional realities. From 1935 to 1947 he worked in Washington, D.C., for various government agencies, and then vanished from public view.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.