Clifford Dowdey (1904–1979) was an American author of fiction and nonfiction dealing with the American South, Virginia and especially the Civil War era.
Clifford Dowdey was born in Richmond, Virginia January 23, 1904 and died there May 30, 1979. The Richmond Newspapers, the Richmond Times Dispatch and the Richmond News Leader eulogized him as The Last Confederate. His father was descended from immigrants surnamed O'Dowda of County Galway, Ireland, and his mother from an English settler of Jamestown. His father worked for Western Union and his mother was a housewife. Four of his grandmother's brothers were Confederate soldiers. His grandmother lived with his family until she died when Dowdey was age 19. Her reminiscences spurred his lifelong interest in the American Civil War and the history of Virginia.
He attended Columbia University from 1921–1925. He worked for about a year as a newspaper reporter and book reviewer for the Richmond News Leader. He returned to New York City and worked as an editor for various pulp magazines (Munsey's, Argosy and Dell) from 1926 to around 1935. About 1933 he started writing seriously on what eventually would become his first novel, Bugles Blow No More. Leaving the magazines, he and his wife moved to Florida for a season and then to Richmond, Virginia where he finished the novel. For the rest of his life, he lived in Richmond and worked as a writer of historical fiction and history. He reviewed others' historical works in academic journals, such as The Journal of Southern History and The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Even though he had no formal training as an historian several of his works received critical acclaim by noted historians. His historical novels were popular as evidenced by their being reviewed in The New York Times.
His first marriage was to Katherine Wright Carrington, a New York stage actress, in 1930. On July 13, 1944, he married Frances Wilson, a clinical psychologist; she died July 1970. He was the father of two daughters, Frances and Sarah. Later on 9 September 1971 he married a third time, to Carolyn DeCamps, a librarian with Chesterfield County, Virginia.
Clifford Dowdey wrote both novels and historical works, including:
- Bugles Blow No More. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1937.
- Gamble's Hundred. Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1939.
- Sing for a Penny. Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1941.
- Tidewater. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1943.
- Where My Loves Sleeps. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1945.
- Weep for My Brother. Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1950.
- Jasmine Street. Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1952.
- The Proud Retreat: A Novel of the Lost Confederate Treasure. Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1953.
- Last Night the Nightingale. Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1962.
- Experiment in Rebellion. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1946.
- The Land They Fought for: Story of the South as the Confederacy, 1832 -1865. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1955.
- The Great Plantation: A Profile of Berkeley Hundred and Plantation Virginia from Jamestown to Appomattox. New York: Rinehart, 1957.
- Death of a Nation: The story of Lee and His Men at Gettysburg. New York: A. A. Knopf, 1958.
- Lee's Last Campaign: The Story of Lee and His Men Against Grant - 1864. University of Nebraska Press, 1960.
- Ed., Wartime Papers of R. E. Lee. Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1961.
- The Seven Days: The Emergence of Lee. Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1964.
- Lee. Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1965.
- The Virginia Dynasties: The Emergence of 'King' Carter and the Golden Age. Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1969.
- The Golden Age: A Climate for Greatness, Virginia 1732-1775. Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1970.
Dowdey's papers are held at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia.
In Jonathan Schwartz's memoir, All in Good Time, he mentions that his mother Katherine was married to Dowdey sometime before 1934 when she married Arthur Schwartz, his composer father. Her name was Katherine Carrington, and she was the daughter of Miriam Howells, who was the daughter of William Hooper Howells, a cousin to William Dean Howells.
- Taylor, W. D. "Virginia Authors Past and Present." 1972.
- New York Times 13 July 1941.