Hall, born in Brooklyn, New York, to an architect father and a homemaker mother, postponed graduating from college in order to help support her family. Eventually she graduated from Barnard College, and in order to become an author, she took a writing course over and over again until she was satisfied that she'd sharpened her skills. After winning a magazine competition, Hall felt comfortable enough to begin penning her first book The Walsh Girls.
During this time, Hall married Eliot Janeway, an economic adviser to both President Franklin D. Roosevelt and President Lyndon B. Johnson. Hall, now Janeway, enjoyed the time spent with Washington's famous people, including U. S. Supreme Court justices. Putting her mind to finishing her novel, Janeway wrote the ending to The Walsh Girls while waiting for her second child to be born. She then signed the book contract as she rode to the hospital.
Janeway wrote seven novels in total, including Daisy Kenyon which was made into a movie starring Joan Crawford, worked as a reviewer for the New York Times and Ms. magazine, and was president of the Authors Guild where she lobbied for copyright protection for writers. Her books often concentrated on family issues, and as she grew older she became more of a feminist, making friends with Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan. Man's World, Woman's Place reflected her beliefs. Janeway also served as the director of the National Organization for Women's legal and education fund as well as a judge for the National Book Awards and for the Pulitzer Prize. She vocally supported the Communist Party and abortion rights.
In 1993 Janeway passed away from strokes in her New York home. She was survived by hers sons, Michael Janeway and William Janeway and their families. In Janeway's honor, the Star Trek series named their first female lead after her.
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