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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]

In her hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin, an elementary school was named after her: Edna Ferber Elementary School[citation needed].

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]

A fictionalized version of Edna Ferber appears briefly as a character in Philipp Meyer's novel, The Son (2013).

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.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

5984 news items

New York Times

New York Times
Fri, 05 Jun 2015 21:41:15 -0700

That theatrical adage “Dying is easy; comedy is hard” is aptly demonstrated by the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey's current revival of “The Royal Family” in Madison. A 1927 comedy by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber, “The Royal Family” regards ...

Slate Magazine

Slate Magazine
Wed, 24 Jun 2015 11:26:36 -0700

The 1920s saw a flourishing of commercial novels, especially by women, and especially in the genres of romance, historical fiction, westerns, and crime. It was the heyday of Zane Grey, Sinclair Lewis, Edna Ferber, and Dorothy Canfield, Anita Loos ...

New York Times

New York Times
Sat, 20 Jun 2015 15:23:43 -0700

201-227-1030; bergenpac.org. MADISON F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theater, Drew University “The Royal Family,” by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber. Through June 21. $25 to $50. F. M. Kirby Shakespeare Theater, Drew University, 36 Madison Avenue.

Bay Area Reporter

Bay Area Reporter
Wed, 24 Jun 2015 18:52:30 -0700

Novelist and playwright Edna Ferber decides to perform and takes the lead in a revival of the 1927 comedy she wrote with George S. Kaufman, The Royal Family, a satire about the Barrymores. During rehearsals in New Jersey, a handsome young actor, ...

NJ.com

NJ.com
Wed, 17 Jun 2015 04:03:45 -0700

... the first victims of celebrity exploitation by tabloid newspapers in the 1920's as well as the vague basis for the often zany characters in "The Royal Family," a 1927 play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber which ends its run in Madison this weekend.

Baristanet

Baristanet
Fri, 05 Jun 2015 07:34:42 -0700

Peter Filichia, the dean of New Jersey drama critics, and I often comment when we're together how we both wish that, at least in terms of theatre, we had been born decades before we were. It isn't that we don't appreciate much of what theatre has to ...

NorthJersey.com

NorthJersey.com
Wed, 10 Jun 2015 21:52:30 -0700

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey presents George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's Tony Award-winning American classic 'The Royal Family.' From left, Julie Cavendish (Roxanna Hope) and daughter Gwen Cavendish (Samantha Bruce) share a ...

TVGrapevine.com

TVGrapevine.com
Tue, 23 Jun 2015 12:52:30 -0700

There followed “The Land Is Bright,” by Kaufman and Edna Ferber, in 1941-42, with the young actor still credited as Dickie Van Patten; Thornton Wilder's original comedy “The Skin of Our Teeth” in 1942-43; Edward Chodorov's “Decision” in 1944; “The Wind ...
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