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Helen Waite Papashvily was a world famous author. Many of her books were written in collaboration with her husband, sculptor George Papashvily. Their most famous book, Anything Can Happen, (1945), was a humorous account of George's early experiences as an immigrant arriving in America in 1921 without money or formal education from Georgia (former USSR). The book was a Book-of-the-Month Club co-selection and a best-seller, selling more than 600,000 copies in the United States and 1.5 million worldwide. It was translated into 15 foreign languages. Hollywood made it into a movie in 1952, starring Jose Ferrer as George and Kim Hunter as Papashvily. She also co-authored with her husband Yes and No Stories, Thanks to Noah, Dogs and People, and Home and Home Again, which was also a best-seller. Papashvily wrote a biography of Louisa May Alcott, intended for the young reader, and All the Happy Endings, a study of women novelists in America in the 19th century. She contributed to magazines, including Gourmet and the Saturday Evening Post. She taught writing courses around her home in Bucks County to aspiring writers and used her fame to promote and assist libraries. Papashvily died at age 89 in California.
Helen Papashvily. Image courtesy of Patricia Goodrich.
Education and Training
University of California, California, late 1920s
Teachers and Influences
Louisa May Alcott, George Papashvily (husband and co-author)
Connection to Bucks County
Helen Waite Papashvily moved with her husband, sculptor George Papashvily, to Ertoba Farm near Quakertown in 1935. Ertoba means harmonious place in Georgian, George's native language. Papashvily and George lived at Ertoba Farm when they co-authored their famous book, Anything Can Happen (1945). The book contains an account of how and why they settled at Ertoba and how George initial struggles as a farmer.
Papashvily owned and operated the Moby Dick Bookstore in downtown Allentown. She supported the local library system, including donating page proofs of Anything Can Happen to the Allentown Public Library. She taught writing workshops for years at Quakertown High School Extended Education Division and the Allentown College Continuing Education Program. She believed that "you're never too old to write. Everybody has a story to tell." Lehigh University conferred an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to Papashvily in 1985 for her service to young readers, aspiring writers, and her dedication to Lehigh's libraries. She was a member and teacher of the Bucks County Writers Group and lectured locally.
Colleagues and Affiliations
George Papashvily, Ben and Rae Solowey, Ahron Ben-Schmuel, Arthur Meltzer, Paulette Van Roekens Meltzer, William A. and Ferol Smith
Bucks County Writers Group, including writers Jere Knight, Kay Winters, Sally Keehn, and Patricia Goodrich
George and Helen Papashvily. Collection of Constance Allen Ward. James A. Michener Art Museum archives.
Louisa May Alcott, biography for children
Russian Cooking, 1970
Novels and Short Stories
All The Happy Endings
Co-author with George Papashvily:
Anything Can Happen, 1945
Yes and No Stories, 1946
Thanks To Noah, 1954
Dogs and People, 1954
Home and Home Again, 1973
Anything Can Happen, 1945, was made into a movie
Teaching and Professional Appointments
Creative Writing Instructor, Continuing Education, Allentown College, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Doctor of Humane Letters (honorary), Lehigh University, Pennsylvania, 1985
Book of the Month Club selection, Anything Can Happen, 1952, translated into 15 languages
Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania, for her outspoken and articulate support of racial, religious, and ethnic understanding among all people and her strong advocacy of libraries, 1986