Daoma Winston Strasberg, Washinton author of mystery and romance novels, dies at 90


Daoma Winston Strasberg poses for a portrait in this undated family photo. She wrote more than 70 novels under her maiden name, Daoma Winston. (Family Photo)
May 11, 2013

Daoma Winston Strasberg, a Washington author who produced almost 70 mystery and romance novels in a writing career that spanned more than four decades, died April 1 at her home in Washington. She was 90.

She had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said Michael D. Mosettig, a family friend.

Mrs. Strasberg, who worked under her maiden name, Daoma Winston, wrote some science fiction but concentrated primarily on historical novels, many of which were set in her native Washington.

Her stories were mostly about the lives of ordinary people in historic settings — not about the leading figures of their times, the celebrated or the powerful. The stories tended to revolve around households and families, often focusing on a strong woman as the protagonist. Her novels included adventure, suicide, adultery, conspiracy, murder, insanity and betrayal.

“The Fall River Line” — a 90-year saga about the family of a New England matriarch who owns a Massachusetts-based steamship line in the late 19th century — was reviewed in The Washington Post in 1983.

“Daoma Winston is a gifted storyteller,” critic Dennis Drabelle wrote. “ ‘The Fall River Line’ is an unfailingly interesting book. What it lacks is a pattern having some organic relation to the many characters’ lives.”

Few of Mrs. Strasberg’s books were reviewed, except in library journals, and none became a bestseller.

Her best-known Washington-based novel was perhaps “The Haversham Legacy” (1975). Beginning on the night of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, the adventure-romance unfolds against a backdrop of post-Civil War Washington and the presidency, impeachment and trial of Andrew Johnson.

Other novels dealt with political intrigue in Maryland in the late 1890s and life on a North Carolina plantation immediately before the Civil War.

A commentary on her work published in the 1994 edition of Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers noted that Mrs. Strasberg uses “times and events as ‘set decoration’ against which to place her characters. She is adept at painting detailed word pictures of the dress, homes, furnishings, possessions, and the demeanour of her men and women.”

Daoma Winston was born in Washington on Nov. 3, 1922. Her parents owned and operated grocery stores and restaurants. She graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1940 and from George Washington University in 1944. The summer of 1944, she married Murray Strasberg, an acoustical physicist, who died in August. They had no children, and there are no immediate survivors.

Mrs. Strasberg “was always very clear that writing was something she just had to do,” said Karen Roberts, a cousin of the author’s late husband’s.

Several of the novels were set in Taos, N.M., which was Mrs. Strasberg’s second home for several decades beginning in the 1950s.

“I tell aspiring writers who ask me, first of all, to read, read, read,” Mrs. Strasberg told the Contemporary Authors reference work. “Then to write only what they themselves most enjoy reading. And thirdly to make a habit of writing every single day, even if it’s only a few words.”

Mrs. Strasberg did not “sit around and wait for inspiration,” Mosettig recalled. “She just wrote.”

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