Dorothy Heyward

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DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, authors of the play Porgy (1927)

Dorothy Heyward née Kuhns, (June 6, 1890 – November 19, 1961) was an American playwright.

In addition to several works of her own, she co-authored the play Porgy (1927) with her husband DuBose Heyward, adapting it from his novel by the same name. Their work is now known best in its adaptation as the opera Porgy and Bess (1935), with music by George Gershwin.

Early life and education[edit]

She was born in Wooster, Ohio as Dorothy Kuhns. She was interested in literature from an early age and started writing plays.

In 1922 Kuhns attended the writer's colony of MacDowell Colony, where she met DuBose Heyward. They married that year and she changed her name.[1]

When her husband was writing his novel Porgy, Dorothy Heyward saw dramatic possibilities in the story. She convinced him that it would work as a play. They collaborated to adapt it to the stage. The 1927 Theatre Guild production ran for 367 performances.

Their play was later adapted as the opera Porgy and Bess (1935), with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by DuBose Heyward. This was adapted as a film by the same name in 1959.


  • Nancy Ann (1924)
  • Porgy (1927), co-written with DuBose Heyward
  • Jonica (1930), musical: book co-written with Moss Hart; lyrics by William Moll; music by Joseph Meyer
  • Cinderelative (1930), co-written with Dorothy De Jagers
  • Mamba's Daughter's (1939), co-written with DuBose Heyward
  • South Pacific (1943), co-written with Howard Rigsby
  • Set My People Free (1948)[2]


  1. ^ "Dorothy Heyward, Porgy Co-Author, Dies Suddenly". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. 1961-11-22. p. 14. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
  2. ^ [, the Internet Broadway Database Internet Broadway Database]

External links[edit]