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Guide to the Joe Campbell Collection of Dorothy Dean Letters
 MSS 222 MSS.222

Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
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Fales Library and Special Collections

Collection processed by Processed by Nicholas Martin, 2008.

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on July 11, 2017
Description is in English.

Biographical Note

Dorothy Dean was a downtown social figure. Born into a bourgeois black family in 1932 in White Plains, New York, she attended Radcliffe College and in 1958 earned a masters degree in Fine Arts from Harvard College. While at Cambridge, she began associating almost entirely with gay white men, presumably in an effort to distance herself from the politics surrounding being both black and female in the fifties and sixties, politics with which she did not identify.

Moving to New York, Dean established herself as part of Andy Warhol's Factory and also worked as the door person at Max's Kansas City. She was loved for her strong, verbose personality, perhaps mostly for her playful phrasing and clever nicknames (Andy Warhol, to Dean, became "Drella," a combination of Dracula and Cinderella; James Baldwin was "Martin Luther Queen"). She rarely worked; she held brief editorial and proofreading positions at publications such as The New Yorkerand  Vogue. She appeared in several Factory films, including  My Hustler, and  Afternoon.

In 1980, Dean moved to Boulder, Colorado, where she worked at a bookstore and as an editor, and continued writing letters to her friends. She died of cancer in Boulder on February 13, 1987.


Als, Hilton. The Women. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1998. pp. 67-117.

Watson, Steven. Factory made: Andy Warhol and the Sixties. New York: Pantheon Books, c2003.