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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.
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5354 news items

NJ.com

NJ.com
Tue, 26 May 2015 05:00:00 -0700

"The Royal Family" in Madison — The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey opens its season with George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's "The Royal Family," a comedy about a family of actors inspired by the Barrymores. Artistic director Bonnie J. Monte leads ...
 
Broadway World
Wed, 27 May 2015 12:19:33 -0700

On Saturday, June 13 at 7 pm, director Genevieve Aichele leads a cast of 20+ community members in Dinner at Eight, the 1932 classic spoof of life "on the fast track" by George Kaufman & Edna Ferber. Best known for the cinema adaptation starring Jean ...

Broadway World

Broadway World
Tue, 26 May 2015 03:18:45 -0700

Inspiration for an original musical can be found just about anywhere, if you are to believe the history of musical theater: Show Boat came from an Edna Ferber novel, Oklahoma from a play called Green Grow the Lilacs and Kinky Boots from a rather ...

Daily Record

Daily Record
Thu, 21 May 2015 21:11:23 -0700

The production of the comedy by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber, directed by Bonnie J. Monte, runs May 27 through June 21. In an interview earlier this year, Monte - who is celebrating her 25th year as the theater's artistic director, explained that ...

New York Times

New York Times
Thu, 21 May 2015 15:04:17 -0700

MADISON F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theater, Drew University “The Royal Family,” by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber. May 27 through June 21. $25 to $50. F. M. Kirby Shakespeare Theater, Drew University, 36 Madison Avenue. shakespearenj.org; ...

NorthJersey.com

NorthJersey.com
Wed, 20 May 2015 16:34:18 -0700

"The Royal Family," by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber, May 27-June 21, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, 36 Madison Ave., Madison. Shakespearenj.org, 973-408-5600. "Arsenic and Old Lace," by Joseph Kesselring, directed by Sue Mandzik ...

Daily Record

Daily Record
Wed, 13 May 2015 13:37:30 -0700

Performances of the George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber comedy begin on May 27 and continue through June 21, with a possible extension to June 28. The script calls for a pair of identical dogs, but the company is open to a variety of breeds and sizes.

Broadway World

Broadway World
Fri, 22 May 2015 10:27:34 -0700

Inspiration for an original musical can be found just about anywhere, if you are to believe the history of musical theater: Show Boat came from an Edna Ferber novel, Oklahoma from a play called Green Grow the Lilacs, Kinky Boots from a rather obscure ...
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