Paul Kester (1870-1933) was an American dramatist and author. He wrote popular novels and also plays which were produced on Broadway with well-known American and British actors. His older brother, Vaughan Kester (1869-1911) was a journalist and novelist who wrote short stories and assisted Paul with his plays. Harriet Watkins Kester was their mother and Jessie Jennings Kester was married to Vaughan Kester. Collection consists of correspondence, literary manuscripts and personal papers of Paul Kester and his brother Vaughan covering their work as dramatists and their correspondence with people in the performing arts. Harriet Watkins Kester's and Jessie Jennings Kester's personal papers are included in the collection. The bulk of Paul Kester's papers is correspondence with actors, actresses, playwrights, producers, publishers, and script writers. His personal letters, 1888-1924, are mainly to his mother, brother and sister-in-law and many of the letters refer to his daily activities as a playwright. Writings contain his working notes and drafts of some of his plays and novels. Miscellaneous papers include photographs of the Kester family and small collections of other individuals' papers. Vaughan Kester's papers contain incoming letters from colleagues; outgoing letters, 1891-1907, to his mother and to Paul Wilstach; writings; and miscellaneous papers. Papers of Harriet Watkins Kester consist of correspondence, 1874-1926, with her sons Paul and Vaughan about their careers and with her daughter-in-law Jessie; and writings, diaries and other materials. Jessie Jennings Kester's correspondence, 1899-1914, is with friends, her brother-in-law and mother-in-law, and with various members of the Kester and Watkins families. Also includes scrapbooks with press notices of Paul Kester's novels and plays.
Biographical/historical: Paul Kester (June 20, 1870 - November 2, 1933), author and playwright, the son of Franklin Cooley Kester and Harriet (Watkins) Kester; the younger brother of Vaughan Kester. Kester was educated by tutors and private schools as was his brother Vaughan. Kester was a success in the Dramatic Arts; at the age of 22, his first play appeared on Broadway titled "Countess Roudino" (1892). This initial start was followed by approximately 25 plays which include "Eugene Aram" (1896), "The Cavalier" (1902), and "Friend Hannah", produced by Annie Russell (1906). Many well known American and British actors and actresses appeared in his plays including Margaret Anglin and Lynn Fontaine. When Kester was not writing plays, he penned novels including "The Course of True Love" and "His Own Country". A shy and diffident man, he remained most of the time in his Virginia home "Gunston Hall", while his plays were produced in New York. Kester died at the age of 63 from an attack of thrombosis (1933), in his Mohegan Lake, New York home. Unmarried, he was survived by a cousin Mrs. Eberhard Lueders (Florence Wickham).