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Edna Ferber
Edna Ferber.jpg
circa 1904
Born August 15, 1885
Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA
Died April 16, 1968 (age 82)
New York City, New York, USA
Occupation Novelist, playwright
Nationality United States
Genre drama, romance

Edna Ferber (August 15, 1885[1] – April 16, 1968) was an American novelist, short story writer and playwright. Her novels were especially popular and included the Pulitzer Prize-winning So Big (1924), Show Boat (1926; made into the celebrated 1927 musical), Cimarron (1929; made into the 1931 film which won the Academy Award for Best Picture), and Giant (1952; made into the 1956 Hollywood movie).


Early years[edit]

Ferber was born August 15, 1885, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to a Hungarian-born Jewish storekeeper, Jacob Charles Ferber, and his Milwaukee, Wisconsin-born wife, Julia (Neumann) Ferber. After living in Chicago, Illinois, and Ottumwa, Iowa, at the age of 12 Ferber and her family moved to Appleton, Wisconsin, where she graduated from high school and briefly attended Lawrence University. She took newspaper jobs at the Appleton Daily Crescent and the Milwaukee Journal before publishing her first novel. She covered the 1920 Republican National Convention and 1920 Democratic National Convention for the United Press Association.


Ferber's novels generally featured strong female protagonists, along with a rich and diverse collection of supporting characters. She usually highlighted at least one strong secondary character who faced discrimination ethnically or for other reasons; through this technique, Ferber demonstrated her belief that people are people and that the not-so-pretty people have the best character.

Several theatrical and film productions have been based on her works, including Show Boat, Giant, Ice Palace, Saratoga Trunk, Cimarron (which won an Oscar) and the 1960 remake. Three of these works – Show Boat, Saratoga Trunk and Giant – have been developed into musicals.

When composer Jerome Kern proposed turning the very serious Show Boat into a musical, Ferber was shocked, thinking it would be transformed into a typical light entertainment of the 1920s. It was not until Kern explained that he and Oscar Hammerstein II wanted to create a different type of musical that Ferber granted him the rights. Saratoga, based on Saratoga Trunk, was written at a much later date, after serious plots had become acceptable in stage musicals.

In 1925, she won the Pulitzer Prize for her book So Big, which was made into a silent film starring Colleen Moore that same year. An early talkie movie remake followed, in 1932, starring Barbara Stanwyck and George Brent, with Bette Davis in a supporting role. A 1953 remake of So Big starred Jane Wyman in the Stanwyck role, and is the version most often seen today.

Ferber was a member of the Algonquin Round Table, a group of wits who met for lunch every day at the Algonquin Hotel in New York. Ferber and another member of the Round Table, Alexander Woollcott, were long-time enemies, their antipathy lasting until Woollcott's death in 1943, although Howard Teichmann states in his biography of Woollcott that their feud was due to a misunderstanding. According to Teichmann, Ferber once described Woollcott as "a New Jersey Nero who has mistaken his pinafore for a toga."

Ferber collaborated with Round Table member George S. Kaufman on several plays presented on Broadway, most notably The Royal Family (1927), Dinner At Eight (1932) and Stage Door (1936).

Plaque located in Manhattan, at 65th Street & Central Park West, in the building in which Edna Ferber lived for six years

Personal life[edit]

Ferber never married, had no children, and is not known to have engaged in a romance or sexual relationship.[2] In her early novel Dawn O'Hara, the title character's aunt is said to have remarked, "Being an old maid was a great deal like death by drowning – a really delightful sensation when you ceased struggling." Ferber did take a maternal interest in the career of her niece Janet Fox, an actress who performed in the original Broadway casts of Ferber's plays Dinner at Eight and Stage Door.

Ferber died at her home in New York City, of stomach cancer,[3] at the age of 82.


Ferber was portrayed by the actress Lili Taylor in the 1994 film Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle.[4]

In 2008, The Library of America selected Ferber's article "Miss Ferber Views 'Vultures' at Trial" for inclusion in its two-century retrospective of American True Crime.

On July 29, 2002, in her hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin, the U.S. Postal Service issued an 83¢ Distinguished Americans series postage stamp honoring her. Artist Mark Summers, well known for his scratchboard technique, created this portrait for the stamp referencing a black-and-white photograph of Ferber taken in 1927.[5]


Musicals adapted from Ferber novels:


  1. ^ Boudreau, Richard (1986). The Literary Heritage of Wisconsin: Beginnings to 1925. Juniper Press. p. 412. "Though she generally claimed 1887 as her birth year, an entry in her mother's diary reveals that Edna Ferber was born in 1885 in Kalamazoo, Michigan...." 
  2. ^ Ferber has been rumored to be a lesbian in several undocumented sources. Professor John Unsworth makes an unsupported claim in John Sutherland (2007) Bestsellers: A Very Short Introduction Oxford University Press: 53. Haggerty and Zimmerman imply she was gay because of her visits to Provincetown in the early 20th century (Haggerty and Zimmerman (2000), Lesbian Histories and Cultures: An Encyclopedia, Taylor and Francis, p. 610). Porter (Porter, Darwin (2004) Katherine the Great, Blood Moon Productions, Ltd, p. 204) comments in passing that Ferber was a lesbian, but offers no support. Burrough (Burrough, Brian (2010) The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes, Penguin) also remarks in passing that Ferber was gay, citing the biography written by Julie Goldsmith Gilbert (Ferber's great niece, see bibliography). Gilbert, however, makes no mention of lesbian relationships.
  3. ^ Great American Writers: Twentieth Century
  4. ^ Internet Movie Database entry for Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle
  5. ^ The Postal Store (2008). "Distinguished Americans Series: Edna Ferber". United States Postal Service. Archived from the original on 2008-05-07. Retrieved 2008-08-09. 
  • Ferber, Edna (1960). A Peculiar Treasure. New York: Doubleday. 
  • Gilbert, Julie Goldsmith (2000). Edna Ferber and Her Circle, A Biography. New York: Hal Leonard Corporation. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edna_Ferber — Please support Wikipedia.
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1554 videos foundNext > 

Sundried by Edna Ferber

Adrienne Reading a monologue as character Mary Louis, a writer.

The Ten-Year Lunch; Wits & Legends of the Algonquin Round Table (Complete)

The Algonquin Round Table set the standard for literary style and wit beyond its ten-year duration. After World War I, Vanity Fair writers and Algonquin regu...

The Homely Heroine by Edna Ferber

LibriVox recording of The Homely Heroine, by Edna Ferber. Read by Phil Chenevert Who ever heard of a plain and downright homely heroine? Isn't a heroine by d...

Edna Ferber Quotes

What was your favorite Edna Ferber quote? 'Like' and leave a comment below, then jump over to http://quotetank.com/quotes-by/edna-ferber and make a list of y...

One Basket by Edna Ferber

This sparkling collection of 7 short stories by Ferber including some that are considered her all time best like The Woman Who Tried To be Good and The Mater...

American Beauty, by Edna Ferber

HOW DO YOU GUYS LIKE MY NEW OPENING SEQUENCE FOR MY BOOK REVIEWS?!! My third book review video. I include two books here. 1) "American Beauty" by Edna Ferber...

Monologue from Edna Ferber's Sun Dried

In which Brianna reads a monologue from Edna Ferber's "Sun Dried." She once used this for an audition in high school.

Victoria Kite- Selections from Stage Door

Selections from Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman's Stage Door. Victoria Kite as Mrs. Shaw.

audiobook fanny herself edna ferber

The other chapters along with an interesting collection on http://roby1968.altervista.org/audiobook.htm.

Book Reflection So Big by Edna Ferber

1554 videos foundNext > 

21 news items

San Antonio Express-News

San Antonio Express-News
Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:26:15 -0700

Often likened to Jett Rink, the anti-hero of Edna Ferber's "Giant" or the scheming J.R. Ewing of the long-running CBS television drama "Dallas," he was a nonsmoking teetotaler who cultivated a devil-may-care Texas mystique by inhabiting cheap suits, ...

The New Daily

The New Daily
Thu, 23 Oct 2014 01:15:00 -0700

She remarked that she had loved the Edna Ferber novel, but the film seemed that much more to her as she had gone to see it with my dad and my brother when I was only four years old. At that point, it seemed right to ask what other films she held dear ...
Bismarck Tribune
Sun, 19 Oct 2014 10:03:45 -0700

Last chance: “Final Curtain: An Edna Ferber mystery,” Ed Ifkovic; “Going, Going, Gone, A Journey Into the Hereafter,” a novel by D.D. Lanz; “Vengeance is Mine, A Red River Mystery,” Reavis Z. Wortham. And four books by Gregory L. Heitmann: “Teener ...
Washington Post
Tue, 07 Oct 2014 15:41:31 -0700

Desmermortes in Jean Anouilh's “Ring Round the Moon” (1999) and the erstwhile stage star in the George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber comedy “Dinner at Eight” (2003). She appeared with many of the best-known actors of the era, including Audrey Hepburn ...
Daily Press
Fri, 03 Oct 2014 19:01:46 -0700

When Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edna Ferber visited the theater in 1924, she quickly enlisted in the busy troupe, taking turns selling tickets while she waited for chances to interview manager, director, playwright and lead actor Charles Hunter ...
Dallas Observer (blog)
Wed, 15 Oct 2014 10:13:22 -0700

... 47, has launched several musicals that have gone on to become modest Broadway successes, including cheerleader comedy Lysistrata Jones (starring DTC company member Liz Mikel); a near-operatic version of Edna Ferber's Giant (co-produced with the ...
Franklin Park Herald
Tue, 23 Sep 2014 13:03:45 -0700

A comedy written in 1937 by Edna Ferber and George Kaufman, “Stage Door” is the tale of 16 young women who go to New York City, each with the goal of launching a career on the stage. They meet at Mrs. Orcutt's boarding house, where their individual ...

Broadway World

Broadway World
Wed, 08 Oct 2014 20:56:15 -0700

Seldes started the new millennium with a fresh part in a new Neil Simon comedy, 45 SECONDS FROM BROADWAY, with a classic George S. Kaufman/Edna Ferber play, DINNER AT EIGHT, after that. Seldes's final Broadway play was written especially for ...

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