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Howell, R’lene

    Full Name: Howell, R'lene LaFleur

    Other Names:

    • R'lene LaFleur Howell
    • Rlene LaFleur Howell
    • Rlene L. Howell
    • R'lene L. Howell
    • Rlene Howell Dahlberg

    Gender: female

    Date Born: 1926

    Place Born: MI, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): decorative art (art genre) and Modern (style or period)

    Institution(s): Metropolitan Museum of Art


    American woman of letters; wrote art history; teacher; poet. R’lene LaFleur Howell was born in Michigan in 1926. She attended the University of Chicago for her doctorate; her dissertation was titled American Art in the Stream of Realism. She worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as an assistant, penning and article, “Craftsmanship in Wrought Iron” in 1950. As she published, the aspiring novelist Edward Dahlberg (1900-1977) courted her—calling her daily and dedicating works such as “The Parables” and The Flea of Sodom to her. On October 14th, 1950 Dahlberg published this tribute to R’lene, then divorcing his second wife Winifred to marry her. R’lene changed her name to Rlene H Dahlberg, dropping the apostrophe and taking her husband’s last name. Together, they moved throughout Majorca, Montpellier, and Torremolinos, eventually settling in Majorca. As Edward gained more recognition for his writings, R’lene continued to act as his editor. She then taught English at UCLA and Grover Cleveland High School, staying friends with Edward after they divorced in 1967. R’lene became a poet, author, and publisher at Pequod Press, publishing “Elsie John and Joey Martinez” in 1979 and penning Emma Goldman in 1983. Through her editorial work, she became a close friend of the writer Herbert Huncke (1915-1996)—a poet and author who coined the term “The Beat Generation.” Later on, R’lene became an English teacher in New York at Stuyvesant High School. An R’lene Howell Dahlberg scholarship was created to honor her.

    Howell Dahlberg published comparatively little as an art historian. However, her meeting the nascent writer Francis “Frank” McCourt (1930-2009), through her husband, led her to become his advocate. McCourt’s publication of his famous Angela’s Ashes, 1996, was due in part to her championing it.

    Selected Bibliography

    • [dissertation:]American art in the stream of realismUniversity of Chicago, 1948;
    • (as Howell) “Craftsmanship in Wrought Iron.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 9, no. 3 (1950): 83-86;
    • “The Colonial Style.” The Freeman. December 1, 1952;
    • (as Dahlberg). Emma Goldman. New York: Pequod Press;
    • and Aubrey Schwartz. 2001. Twelve from the cemetery of Soller: poems.


    • David, Lester. “Rariatrics . . . World’s Most Fabulous Hobby.” Mechanix Illustrated. August 1951;
    • DeFanti, Charles. The Wages of Expectation: a Biography of Edward Dahlberg. New York: New York University Press, 1978;
    • Maeroff, Gene I. “Stuyvesant Teacher End Boycott after Ultimatum.” The New York Times. October 8, 1981.

    Contributors: Eleanor Ross


    Eleanor Ross. "Howell, R’lene." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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