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Edna Ferber
Edna Ferber.jpg
circa 1904
Born August 15, 1885
Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States
Died April 16, 1968 (age 82)
New York City, New York, United States
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).

Biography[edit]

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.

Career[edit]

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 starring Jane Wyman in the Stanwyck role 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.

Legacy[edit]

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]

Works[edit]

Musicals adapted from Ferber novels:

References[edit]

Footnotes
  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. 
Bibliography
  • 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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703 news items

 
Broadway World
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:07:30 -0800

During the 2016-2017 season, Minnesota Opera will premiere Dinner at Eight, a new comic opera by composer William Bolcom and librettist Mark Campbell, based on the play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber. In May 2016, Project Opera, Minnesota ...
 
Bismarck Tribune
Sun, 23 Nov 2014 08:32:19 -0800

Against this backdrop of uneasiness, Edna Ferber, now in middle age, travels to Maplewood, N.J., to act in “The Royal Family,” a play she co-wrote with George S. Kaufman. It long has been her dream to be on the stage and she now has the opportunity to ...

Kane County Chronicle

Kane County Chronicle
Thu, 04 Dec 2014 03:26:15 -0800

A teacher, and I became a teacher. I am now a consultant at Illinois State Board of Education, the Kane County Regional Office and Illinois Reading Council. A book you'd recommend? “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens or “Cimarron” by Edna Ferber.

U-T San Diego

U-T San Diego
Thu, 20 Nov 2014 13:05:47 -0800

"Rain" is based on W. Somerset Maugham's short story of the same name. Sybille Pearson is writing the adaptation; she and LaChiusa previously worked together on the off-Broadway musical "Giant," based on the Edna Ferber novel. LaChiusa is known for ...

Austin Chronicle

Austin Chronicle
Wed, 19 Nov 2014 22:14:45 -0800

The Random House backlist is put to good use with these paperback re-releases of novels that made the leap to screen, including Edna Ferber's Cimarron and Show Boat and R.A. Dick's entrancing The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Criterion Designs (The Criterion ...

TheAlternativePress.com

TheAlternativePress.com
Sat, 22 Nov 2014 14:07:30 -0800

Stage Door was written by Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman. It is a play about girls trying to pursue an acting career while living at the boarding home of Mrs. Orcutt. To pay the rent, many of the girls have poor jobs or are in plays that only show ...

Manchester Evening News

Manchester Evening News
Sun, 07 Dec 2014 11:29:18 -0800

Fifty cast members and a 30-strong orchestra brought Edna Ferber's novel to life via Jerome Kern's score and Oscar Hammerstein II's book and lyrics, and the elating music and operatic excellence of the piece were the perfect dramatic contrast to the ...
 
WNYC (blog)
Mon, 01 Oct 2012 10:16:58 -0700

Popular best-sellers of the day, Edna Ferber's books also provided the stories for influential plays, musicals, and films. At this 1958 Books and Authors Luncheon, she talks about her new book, Ice Palace. She announces that, "If we had been served for ...
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