Despite her success with juvenile series, Lawrence was primarily interested in
writing adult fiction, later telling an interviewer, "Once one starts to write
children's books, one is expected to continue writing children's books to the
end of the chapter. I don't wish to write children's books all my life....I
that my children's books have been kind to me but I want to gamble a bit."
Although friends advised against changing fields, Lawrence nonetheless began work
on an adult novel, spending seven months on the manuscript. She submitted it to
Aventine Press under the pseudonym Lynette Elaine West, since she felt her
own name was already associated with juvenile fiction. Only after it was accepted
did she reveal her true identity.[1a]
The novel, Head of the Family, was published in 1932 and met with limited
success, at best. Her next novel,
however, brought Lawrence's name to prominence. Years Are So Long (1934)
not only received favorable reviews and attained best-seller status, but was also
named a Book-of-the-Month Club selection and later made into a highly-acclaimed
movie, "Make Way for
chosen one of the year's ten best by the New York Times
third novel, If I Have Four Apples
(1935), was also a BOMC selection,
making her only the fifth author that had been so
honored (the other four
included Pearl Buck, John Galsworthy, and
Thornton Wilder) 
and the first American author to have two successive
works chosen as BOMC
selections.  Like Years
(which had dealt with
elderly parents no longer able to support
themselves and adult children
reluctant or unable to help them
Apples addressed another contemporary
problem connected with family life, that of individuals living
beyond their means, determined to pretend their limited income
will somehow stretch to cover whatever purchases they deem important.
(Or, as one character puts it, "Can you teach that two and two make
four to people who are firmly resolved to believe it makes eight?")
By 1937, Lawrence
had built a solid audience and reputation for her fiction.
highlighted her fourth adult work,
Sound of Running
Feet (1937), in its
December 1936 "Book Preview,"
a feature devoted to "an advance excerpt from an
important forthcoming book,"
and The Saturday Review of Literature published
a favorable review. In 1938, her fifth novel,
Bow Down to Wood and Stone,
was praised by Sinclair Lewis, who
devoted a column in Newsweek to Lawrence's work,calling her
"an exceedingly important and interesting young novelist." 
"This world of [Lawrence's] is America, superlatively; industrial,
not sterile from having forgotten its rustic origins.
And of this life, these touching,
gently tragic people, Miss Lawrence
has written four first-rate novels...
"As important as her striking
into human motives in middle-class America is Miss Lawrence's
power of seeing and remembering the details of dailiy living, each petty, yet
all of them together making up the picture of an immortal human being..."
Lawrence continued to explore various social
dilemmas in her novels. A Good Home with Nice People
(1939) "took up the
servant problem, looking at it from two opposite points of view," while
But You Are Young (1940) "concerned . . .
the right of [a] young heroine to marry and
lead her own life, however much family
duty gets in the way."  In the 1940s
however, her books seem to have garnered less attention and, at times, less
favorable reviews, although she still usually managed to turn out
one book per year.
In 1949, The English Journal ran an essay about her works,
"Josephine Lawrence: The Voice of the People," by Kelsey Guilfoil
(associate editor of the Chicago Tribune's Sunday book supplement).
Guilfoil described Lawrence as "the chronicler of the commonplace, the recorder of
the ordinary, and the mirror of the common people. . . . her novels are filled with
daily living, the little (yet not so little to them) problems of little
people and the
complications and complexities of living together," then surveyed
the body of her work through My Heart
Shall Not Fear (1949), concluding that
"Few novelists have ranged so far in showing us
that the masses of humanity are
endowed with an immense courage and that ... heroism of a
quiet and unspectacular
nature is the norm of human existence."
Despite her success, Lawrence remained an intensely private person, keeping to
a strict work
schedule and a quiet life. In response to a questionnaire from
the publicity department
of one of her publishers, she offered the following
biographical information in 1939:
"Have no immediate family now. Live alone in a small apartment, so that
I can write nights.
People assume automatically that working all day and writing
three hours every night must
exhaust me -- but I view with awe and alarm [those]
who work all day, dance or play bridge
or night-club ... for half the night and
then climb mountains, ride and play tennis
Sundays! I do none of these things.
Only rule for exercise is never,
never to ride when I can walk.
"Recreation is the theatre . . . Usually try to
keep my mind from going to seed with at least one lecture course a year. New
School is easy to reach from Newark and always stimulating --the audiences have
such remarkably keen minds and such remarkably bad manners.
"Mad about cats and dogs, with the accent on cats. Would like to live in New York, or on
a very small farm, but stick to Newark because I can walk to work.
"Reactionary to the
extent that I feel employers, as well as employees,
have definite rights--
believe in the value of individual independence, integrity
and intelligence--have concluded that dishonest thinking is the root of all
Ironically, only a year after writing this account, Lawrence did change the
patterns of her life,
at least somewhat. On October 19, 1940, she married Artur
Platz, a soloist in the
Cathedral of St. John the Divine; the two had become
after Platz had read one of her books and contrived to meet her. After
her marriage, Lawrence
moved to an apartment in Manhattan with her husband. Even then,
however, she maintained a strict
writing schedule, three hours per weekday night,
and continued her daily commute to the
Newark Sunday Call.
in "Lend Them Your Ears," an article for The Writer,
Lawrence discussed her
writing philosophy and provided an occasional revealing
of her personality as well.
The article began "Writers, I think, by instinct
like solitude," then went on to encourage
prospective writers to listen to the
people around them, explaining that such conversation provided
for fiction. Lawrence also, uncharacteristically, described her writing
methods to an interviewer with the Newark Sunday Call a few years later;
article contained this brief synopsis of her approach to a novel:
"A preliminary 5,000-word draft in which she puts down all the story,
is broken up into chapters and the highlights selected before she begins on the
and it requires still one more before her literary agent sees it."
apparently preferred not to discuss books while she was writing them; the
that "even her husband didn't read her latest novel until
it was in print."
When the Call folded in 1946, Lawrence moved to the Newark Sunday
News, where she
became book editor and, in later years, also contributed a
Artur Platz died in March, 1963, 
but Lawrence remained in New York and
continued working at the Newark Sunday
News until her retirement circa 1970. Her novel for 1971, Remember When
We Had a Doorman, about life in an "old luxury highrise in Greenwich Village,"
autobiographical touches: like Lawrence, the protagonist lived in a
Greenwich Village apartment,
and the poodle on the cover was actually her own pet,
March 1 (so named because he arrived on that date).
Lawrence died in New York City on February 22, 1978. Services were held at
the First Presbyterian
Church in Greenwich Village.
Her papers (all pertaining to her adult fiction) are at Boston University;
correspondence relating to her Stratemeyer Syndicate juvenile fiction is in the
Stratemeyer Syndicate Records at New York Public Library.
[1a]"Household Editor of Sunday Call Writes First Novel in
Spare Time," Newark Sunday
Call, 27 March 1932
 This was not the only time Lawrence was
prominent literary figures. In 1937, The Saturday
Review of Literature
published an article, "English Ebb, American Flow," comparing British
and American literature, and illustrated it with photos of six
them Josephine Lawrence, Somerset Maugham, and
John Steinbeck (April 3, 1937).
 "Josephine Lawrence," Wilson Library Bulletin,
 Sinclair Lewis, "Vie de Newark," Newsweek, 7
 "Family Goat." [Review of But You Are Young.]
Saturday Review of Literature, 6 January 1940.
"Books and the Arts," Newark Sunday Call, 8
 The SSDI and a draft of an obituary for Lawrence
from the Newark News
both give the date as 1963; the New York
Times obituary for Lawrence incorrectly shows Platz's
death date as 1965.
"Life Among the Cliff Dwellers." [Review of
Remember When We Had a
Doorman.] Newark News, 28 March 1971.
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