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Julia Thompson Von Stosch Schayer
1318 30th St NW, Georgetown neighborhood, DC.
Julia Schayer is the author of a book of short fiction, Tiger Lily and Other Stories (1883). Individual stories were published in The Atlantic Monthly, Scribner’s Monthly, and The Century Magazine. Althugh little read today, a few works have shown some staying power: one of her stories, “Molly,” was critically lauded for its sympathetic portrayal of working-class life in Appalachia; “The Major’s Appointment” was adapted into a play in 1892 by Nelson Wheatcroft and George Backus; and “Story of Two Lives,” was adapted for television and broadcast in 1953 as an episode of Your Favorite Story.
Schayer was active in DC’s literary community in the 1870s through the 1890s, during her period of greatest literary accomplishment. She became particularly close to another DC writer, Frances Hodgson Burnett. Schayer moved here with her second husband, who was appointed Deputy Recorder of Deeds. Two of her children became writers as well.
Richard Schayer, a product of her second marriage, was born in DC, and worked as a newspaper journalist and an actor before serving in WWI. After the end of the war, Schayer became a screenwriter and rose to an executive position at Universal Pictures in Hollywood. His film credits include: The Dragon Painter (1919), The Illustrious Prince (1919), Across to Singapore (1928), Devil-May-Care (1929), Wild Orchids (1929), Dance, Fools, Dance (1931), Private Lives (1931), Trader Horn (1931), Night World (1932), The Mummy (1932), My Pal, the King (1932), The Mummy's Hand (1940), Northwest Passage (with Laurence Stallings and Robert E. Sherwood, 1940), Black Magic (1949), and Kim (1950).
Richard Schayer worked on over 100 films between 1916 and 1956 as screenwriter and dialogue editor. He is associated with a wide range of actors from this period, including Lon Chaney, Joan Crawford, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Hoot Gibson, William Haines, Sessue Hayakawa, William Holden, Tab Hunter, Boris Karloff, Buster Keaton, Tom Mix, Robert Montgomery, Ramon Novarro, Mickey Rooney, Randolph Scott, Norma Shearer, Dean Stockwell, Spencer Tracy, Lupe Vélez, Orson Welles, and Cornel Wilde. Schayer’s films The Cameraman (1928) Hallelujah (1929) and Frankenstein (1931) were selected by the National Film Preservation Board as "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant films" for preservation in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.
His sister, Leonora Speyer, was also born in DC, and educated in the DC public schools and the Brussels Conservatory of Music. Speyer began her career as a concert violinist, performing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, as well as orchestras in France, England and Germany. After living abroad for most of her adult life, she returned to the US with her second husband at the start of WWI, and began to focus on writing.
Speyer won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her second book, Fiddler’s Farewell (1926). Her other books are Slow Wall (1939), Naked Heel (1931), and A Canopic Jar (1921). Speyer also translated poetry and libretti from German and French, and several of her poems were set to music.