Monday, November 14, 2011

Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin

Thanks to my friend Erika, over at Cafe Fashionista, I have become a huge fan of Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin, a biographical view into the literary glam-fest of the 1920s.

The book focuses on four of the most prominent and fashionable female writers during that sparkling decade: Edna Ferber, Zelda Fitzgerald, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Dorothy Parker.

If you're a huge fan of flapper fashion, extravagantly wild parties, and The Great Gatsby, this book is a delicious treat for you.

It not only tells you these women's stories, but provides an extraordinarily clear view into one of the most ritzy, fabulous decades in American history.

You simply need to read this book.

I've decided in honor of this book, I am going to feature all four of these legendary female writers on my blog.

Today, I'm going to start with Edna Ferber, the silent, stoic figure behind some of Hollywood's most iconic films and musicals.

The oldest of the four female writers featured, Edna was born to a middle-class Jewish family in 1885.

Edna started her career as a newspaper reporter in Milwaukee during the early 1920s.

Bored with her journalism career, Edna started writing novels, most of which featured strong female main characters and secondary characters who faced discrimination because of their religion or ethnicity.

Her characters were richly detailed and extremely vivid, because Edna firmly believed that the not-so-pretty people in this world often had the most interesting stories to tell.

After winning the Pulitzer Prize for the best-selling novel, So Big, Edna decided to try a different approach to novel-writing.

Like a true journalist, she decided to research her plots thoroughly, even venturing out to the scene, to experience it hands-on.

After spending four days aboard a showboat in North Carolina, Edna pieced together one of the most famous works of her career: Showboat.

Edna was aghast when she discovered Oscar Hammerstein II wanted to turn her serious novel into a Broadway musical. After all, the book's main themes involved racism and death. What was there to sing about?!

But the famous composer made it work and the musical became legendary. It's iconic song, "Ol' Man River" is still one of the most well-known Broadway songs of all time.

Over the years, most of Edna's novels were turned into a Broadway musical or feature film. One many of you may be familiar with is Giant, the Oscar-winning film starring Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean.

One of the reasons Edna may have been so successful is because the author had absolutely no distractions. She never married and is actually not known to have dated anyone, ever.

If you're interested in learning more about Edna, I would also recommend you read Edna Ferber's Hollywood, which details her long-standing collaboration with showbiz.

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