The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998 Page: 18
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
woman with business acumen-an ability passed on to the couple's only
child. Widowed at the young age of thirty-six years, Gordon's mother
possessed a strong independent streak and held high ambitions for the
couple's multitalented and engaging daughter. Although Gordon
Conway left the Lone Star State as a teenager-for schooling at the
National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C., and at Villa Claire in
Lausanne, Switzerland, and for a professional life in New York City and
abroad-she returned to Dallas many times. Journalists and associates
would continue to label this acclaimed image-maker and stylish New
Woman as a "Texan" throughout her brief but productive career.
Forced into a premature retirement because of ill health and career
burnout in the mid-193os, Gordon Conway died on June 9, 1956, at the
Conway family's eighteenth-century ancestral home of "Mount Sion" in
upper-tidewater Virginia. The artist is buried alongside her parents and
maternal grandmother at Oakland Cemetery in Dallas.2
Gordon Conway's career lasted only twenty-two years (1915-1937) yet
she created an astonishing body of work on both sides of the Atlantic: an
oeuvre of around 5,000 drawings, which metamorphosed into thou-
sands of striking graphic reproductions and hundreds of dramatic and
colorful stage and screen costumes." She illustrated for at least twenty-six
publications and thirty-three consumer advertising clients. Whether
commissioned for a single image or a score of images, she created
posters and promotional graphics along with the costumes and sets for
at least 119 stage productions, including the legitimate theater and
cabaret alike. Between 1927 and 1934 she dressed forty-seven British
films. During the early 1930 she became head of the first autonomous
wardrobe department in the history of the British motion-picture indus-
try and achieved the distinction of being one of the few female film-pro-
duction executives in the world at that time.4
Gordon Conway's career should be viewed in two segments: her New
York period, from 1915 to 1921, and her British and European period,
from 1921 to 1936. Beginning in the mid-19 os-before the United
States entered World War I-Gordon Conway experienced near instant
2Author's interviews with Gordon Conway's cousin Olive Johnson Allen, Nov. 1982-Mar.
1993, in Orange, Virginia, and Fredericksburg, Virginia (cited hereafter as OJA interviews). Al-
so, records of Gordon Conway and family, privately owned by Dr. and Mrs. Harvey W. Allen,
Fredericksburg, Virginia (no relation to the author).
' Ibid. Also see "Catalogue Raisonn6: A Reference Guide to the Artwork and Career of Gor-
don Conway," in Raye Virginia Allen, Gordon Conway: Fashioning a New Woman (Austin: University
of Texas Press, 1997; cited hereafter as CR). Also see GCC.
4The vast majority of Conway's film commissions, as well as her position as a production exec-
utive, involved two British film studios: the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation and its sub-
sidiary, Gainsborough Pictures Ltd. (1928).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998, periodical, 1998; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117155/m1/46/: accessed October 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.