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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 – 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 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.[1] 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,[2] 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.[3]

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.[4]

Works[edit]

Musicals adapted from Ferber novels:

References[edit]

Footnotes
  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Great American Writers: Twentieth Century
  3. ^ Internet Movie Database entry for Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle
  4. ^ 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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18 news items

 
SB Nation
Wed, 03 Sep 2014 05:35:58 -0700

Edna Ferber did not utter the line above as an ironic comment on San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence. She died 15 years before he was born. Still, the two have a connection. Chances are you have no idea who Edna Ferber is, and a few years from ...

SYS-CON Media (press release)

SYS-CON Media (press release)
Thu, 18 Sep 2014 08:22:30 -0700

Cimarron's parents named him after the novel of the same name, written by Edna Ferber and published in 1929, about the Oklahoma land rushes of 1889 and 1893. In this story ambitious settlers attempted to race ahead of their competition and stake claims ...
 
Bismarck Tribune
Sun, 07 Sep 2014 17:45:00 -0700

Still available: "Final Curtain: A 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 ...

Slackerwood

Slackerwood
Tue, 19 Aug 2014 09:30:00 -0700

Based on a 1952 novel by prolific novelist and playwright Edna Ferber, Giant is the story of the Benedict family, owners of a 595,000-acre West Texas cattle ranch. The film opens in the early 1920s, when Jordan "Bick" Benedict (Rock Hudson) travels to ...
 
Jspace News
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 11:23:07 -0700

Adapting the story from (Jewish) writer Edna Ferber's novel of the same name, and with (another Jew) Jerome Kern writing the music, Hammerstein's Show Boat not only depicted an interracial marriage but was also the first Broadway musical to feature a ...
 
HamletHub
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 15:41:15 -0700

If so, then join the Hendrick Hudson Free Library's Play-Reading Group, in which participants will read through scripts from plays, much like actors do when first preparing for a production. Our group will not culminate in a performance - our goal is ...

Film News

Film News
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 18:16:57 -0700

The musical is based on the epic novel written by Edna Ferber, which was first published in 1926. Hammerstein and Kern's masterful creation of Show Boat signalled a movement in contemporary musicals, as it was the first to merge humour with serious ...

Augsburger Allgemeine

Augsburger Allgemeine
Sun, 14 Sep 2014 15:41:15 -0700

Der Film – nach dem gleichnamigen Bestseller-Roman von Edna Ferber – sei weit über das künstlerische Interesse hinaus als eine der bedeutendsten kritischen Selbstdarstellungen der USA anzusehen. Inszenatorisch und menschlich überzeugend, mit ...
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