By Nava Atlas | On | Comments (0)
Have you ever heard of Edna Ferber? For most contemporary readers, the answer will be no. Her work was apparently of its time and place. Yet in that time and place (her prodigious output was concentrated mainly from the 1920s to the 1950s) her works were hugely popular, and financial gold mines.
Ferber was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1885. Her family moved around the midwest before settling in Appleton, Wisconsin, where she spent her teen years.
Her senior essays so impressed the editor of the Appleton Daily Crescent that he offered the 17-year-old Ferber a reporting job. And so, a career was born.
In due time, she moved up to a reporter’s position at the Milwaukee Journal. She gradually intertwined her newspaper work with short story writing. Her first novel, Dawn O’Hara, was the tale of a newspaper reporter in Milwaukee — following the grand tradition of writing what you know, which she soon enough abandoned.
A Pulitzer and big films
Ferber’s reputation was cemented with So Big (1924), a novel that was not only a best seller, but which won the 1924 Pulitzer Prize. Popular writers rarely enjoy critical acclaim, but in her case, the critics were generally kind, even as her subsequent work became less literary and more mainstream.
So panoramic were her narratives that fully eight of her thirteen novels became major movies, including the aforementioned So Big, as well as Saratoga Trunk, Giant, Show Boat , and Cimarron. She also wrote eight plays, Read More→