Sunday, August 21, 2011

Helen Rowe Henze (1899-1973)

Poet and Lyricist, Author and Translator, Singer
Born December 21, 1899, Springfield, Pennsylvania
Died March 16, 1973, Kansas City, Kansas

Helen Van Arsdale Rowe Henze worked as a secretary in a company that manufactured Portland cement, but on the side she wrote poetry. Or maybe I should say that she wrote poetry and worked in industry as her sideline. In any case, she was born on December 21, 1899, in Springfield, Pennsylvania, but moved to Kansas City as a child. Helen went to school at Kansas City Junior College and the Sarachon-Hooley Secretarial School in Kansas City. Her marriage to Raymond Philip Henze appears to have been a brief one. It's end may have prompted her going to work.

Helen Rowe Henze worked as a secretary at the Ash Grove Lime and Portland Cement Company for twenty-seven years, retiring in the same month that she turned 62. She authored five volumes of poetry during those years: Song To Life (1948), Each Man's World (1950), Strange Is the Heart (1951), Arise, My Love (1953), and The Odes of Horace, Newly Translated from the Latin and Rendered in the Original Metres (1961). (There is mention of another book, The Bright God, in the description of a collection of her papers, but I don't know whether the book is hers or if it was ever published.) She also wrote short stories, including one story for Weird Tales, "The Escape," published in the June 1923 issue of the magazine. Her work was published in many newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Kansas City Star, Washington Post, Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, and Prairie Schooner. Helen also attended conferences and lectures on poetry and creative writing, including the University of Kansas Writer's Conference in 1966. Finally, Helen was a singer and a lyricist. Her song, "The Half Loaf," was put to music by Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1961. Helen Rowe Henze, described as "a tall, handsome woman who speaks in a low voice," died in March 16, 1973, in Kansas City, Kansas.

Helen Rowe Henze's Story in Weird Tales
"The Escape" (June 1923)

Further Reading
Helen's books and papers are still available, the latter at the State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center, Kansas City.

Helen V. Rowe from the Westport High School (Kansas City, Missouri) yearbook, The Herald, 1918.
Helen Rowe Henze in a poor reproduction of a newspaper photograph from 1953.
Helen Rowe Henze's lone story for Weird Tales appeared behind this cover, in the June 1923 issue, the magazine's fourth.
Thanks to Randal Everts for providing further information on Helen Rowe Henze, including the photographs. Thanks to John Horner at the Kansas City Public Library for providing Helen's middle name.
Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

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