I've been remiss in posting this, but there was a very important piece recently in The Christian Century on the degree to which Ursula Niebuhr should be considered Reinhold's collaborator and the coauthor of much of his writing, particularly in the last decade of his life. Rebekah Miles makes a compelling argument:
The most compelling evidence for Ursula's role as coauthor in her husband's later writing comes from Niebuhr himself. In the introduction to his 1965 book Man's Nature and His Communities, he includes this passage:
I will not elaborate an already too intimate, autobiographical detail of a happy marriage except to say that this volume is published under my name, and the joint authorship is not acknowledged except in this confession. I will leave the reader to judge whether male arrogance or complete mutuality is the cause of this solution.
It is troubling that a work of joint authorship would be published under only one name. Even so, one can imagine how it might have come about. Reinhold had suffered a series of debilitating strokes beginning in 1952. He continued to work, though at a much slower pace. As his strength declined over the last 19 years of his life, he was increasingly dependent on his wife. Like many stroke patients, he suffered from depression, and she tried to keep his spirits up- that was one reason, she acknowledged, for the conversations she recorded. They were trips down memory lane or around the headlines of the day.
As writing became more difficult for him, her editorial role increased to the point where we can say that she was not only editor but also coauthor. Perhaps it was hard for him to admit even to himself the full extent of her contribution to his late writings. Perhaps she, for the sake of his pride or morale, did not insist that her name be included. One can see how it might have come about that her name was not included in jointly authored pieces in these last decades of his life.
Whatever reason for the pretense then, there is no reason for it now. It is time for scholars to examine more fully Ursula Niebuhr's influence on her husband's work not just in the last years but throughout their marriage. This acknowledgment does not diminish Reinhold Niebuhr, arguably the most influential U.S. theologian of the 20th century.