Beverley Githens Dresbach (1903–1971)
Beverley Githens Dresbach was a poet and journalist who lived in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) with her husband, poet Glenn Ward Dresbach. She was active in the cultural life of Eureka Springs and in the activities of the Arkansas community of poets and writers in her time.
Beverley Githens was born in Wilmette, Illinois, on July 4, 1903, to John Nichols Githens and Elizabeth Beverley Barr Githens. She was educated in Chicago, Illinois, at the Bayeson School in 1919, the University of Chicago in 1927–28, and the Sherwood Music School in 1929–30. Details about her life in Illinois are sketchy. She worked at Carson’s, a Chicago department store—at first selling women’s dresses and then as an elevator operator in the twelve-story building. She was then employed as a secretary at the Bookfellows, a literary publisher in Chicago. She attended plays and movies in Chicago, and her papers contain acknowledgements from actors whose photographs or autographs she requested. She presented poetry readings on the radio in Illinois. In 1938, she privately published a chapbook of poems, Novitiate. On December 18, 1940, she met Glenn Ward Dresbach, who was at that time married to Mary Angela Boyle Dresbach. The Dresbachs moved to Eureka Springs in 1941, and Angela Dresbach died on November 9, 1943. Githens and Glenn Ward Dresbach were married on April 9, 1944, in Wilmette and lived in Eureka Springs in a house they called Bon Repos.
In 1946, Beverley Githens Dresbach was awarded a publication prize by the Dierkes Press of La Porte, Indiana, which brought out her book of poems, No Splendor Perishes. Like many other minor and major poets of her time, Dresbach wrote about external nature, emotion, and moral themes in a conventional style that has not thrived in the twenty-first century. However, she had considerable skill with the sonnet form. Her extensive collection of scrapbooks contains clippings of her poems from newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Christian Science Monitor, as well as other local and regional publications.
After her marriage and relocation to Eureka Springs, she formed connections with other poets and journalists in northwestern Arkansas, especially with Rosa Zagnoni Marinoni of Fayetteville (Washington County) and Edsel Ford of Rogers (Benton County) and Fort Smith (Sebastian County). She and her husband followed and encouraged Ford’s career with almost parental concern. During the latter 1940s, she wrote an occasional column for her hometown weekly, the Putnam County (Illinois) Record, under the title “Sassafras Mountain Sketches.” The editor of the Record introduced her column thus: “Beverley Githens Dresbach, former Chicago secretary, has gone as a bride to…the Ozarks.” He referred to her new home, Bon Repos, as “an ideal honeymoon house for a pair of poetic lovers.” The columns described the daily life in a small town, the beauty of the Ozark landscape, and the adventures of her cat, and often included verse and prose written by her and her husband.
Although she continued to write, she devoted much of her energy to promoting her husband’s reputation and his personal well-being. She corresponded extensively with writers, publishers, and editors throughout the country. Her papers, along with the Glenn Ward Dresbach Papers and the Edsel Ford Papers, document her participation in the Arkansas literary community, including honors, publications, reviews, Arkansas Poetry Day, and the inevitable political machinations. She also corresponded extensively with Ford about a projected book-length biography of Glenn Ward Dresbach that never materialized.
Beverley Githens Dresbach died in Eureka Springs on September 25, 1971. Her remains are interred beside those of her husband in the Fayetteville National Cemetery.
For additional information:
Beverley Githens Dresbach Papers. Special Collections. University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Edsel Ford Papers. Special Collections. University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Glenn Ward Dresbach Papers. Special Collections. University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Ethel C. Simpson
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
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