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Edna Ferber

Edna FerberBorn: 15-Aug-1885
Birthplace: Kalamazoo, MI
Died: 16-Apr-1968
Location of death: New York City
Cause of death: Cancer - unspecified
Remains: Cremated

Gender: Female
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Matter of Dispute
Occupation: Novelist, Playwright
Party Affiliation: Democratic [1]

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Show Boat and Giant

Edna Ferber was one of the best selling female novelists of the 20th century, author of novels and plays from the 1910s to the 1960s. Her best-known books include Show Boat, basis for the perennial play; the Pulitzer Prize-winning maternal saga So Big; and Cimarron, a tale of the Oklahoma land rush. Her stories were usually about ordinary Americans, but frequently dealt with major issues, and her novels and plays have been adapted to make more than two dozen movies, most notably the sprawling modern western Giant, starring James Dean, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor.

Ferber started as a reporter, then wrote her first fiction while recovering from anemia. Her first fame came from a series of short stories -- later novels -- about Emma McChesney, a traveling saleswoman. Her first play, Our Mrs. McChesney, recounted some of those stories, and was produced on Broadway with Ethel Barrymore in the lead. For the stage, Ferber frequently collaborated with George S. Kaufman, perhaps to best effect with Dinner at Eight.

A regular at Dorothy Parker's Algonquin Round Table, she was known for acid-tongued but usually good-natured barbs, including a famous encounter with playwright Noel Coward. Commenting on the masculine cut of her suit, he said she looked almost like a man, to which she replied, "So do you." She was never known to have had a romance with anyone of either gender.


[1] H. L. Phillips quoting Elmer Twitchell, "The Once Over", The Evening Day (New London, CT daily newspaper), 18 October 1952: "Once an author in the $600,000 class gets into the White House, you open the way to the presidency for Somerset Maugham, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and all other best-seller writers. It could lead to the Republicans nominating Fannie Hurst and the Democrats putting up Edna Ferber to save America."

Father: Jacob Charles Ferber (grocer)
Mother: Julia Neumann Ferber
Sister: Fannie Ferber Fox (author, b. 1882)

    High School: Ryan High School, Appleton, WI
    University:
Lawrence University (attended)

    Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 1925 for So Big
    Algonquin Round Table
    Chicago Tribune
    The Milwaukee Journal
    Cholecystectomy
    Hernia Operation
    Hungarian Ancestry Paternal

Author of books:
Dawn O'Hara: The Girl Who Laughed (1911, novel)
Buttered Side Down (1913, novel)
Roast Beef, Medium (1913, novel)
Personality Plus (1914, novel, sequel to Roast Beef, Medium)
Emma McChesney and Co. (1915, novel, sequel to Personality Plus)
Fanny Herself (1917, novel)
Cheerful By Request (1918, novel)
Half Portions (1920, short stories)
The Girls (1921, novel)
Gigolo (1922, novel)
So Big (1924, novel)
Show Boat (1926, novel)
Mother Knows Best (1927, short stories)
Cimarron (1930, novel)
One Basket (1931, short stories)
American Beauty (1931, novel)
They Brought Their Women (1933, short stories)
Come and Get It (1935, novel)
Nobody's in Town (1938, novel)
A Peculiar Treasure (1939, autobiography)
Saratoga Trunk (1941)
No Room at the Inn (1941)
Great Son (1945)
Giant (1952)
Ice Palace (1958)
A Kind of Magic (1963, autobiography)

Wrote plays:
Our Mrs. McChesney (1915)
$1200 A Year (1920, with Newman Levy)
Minick (1924, with George S. Kaufman)
The Eldest (1925)
The Royal Family (1928, with George S. Kaufman)
Dinner at Eight (1932, with George S. Kaufman)
Stage Door (1936, with George S. Kaufman)
The Land Is Bright (1941, with George S. Kaufman)
Bravo (1949, with George S. Kaufman)

Appears on postage stamps:
USA, Scott #3433 (83, issued 29-Jul-2002)


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