Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

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.


Bienvenue chez French Girl in Seattle... said...

What a great story, Jenny. I am glad you have started this series. I am happy I finally met the woman behind "Giant." It was always a favorite movie of mine. Can't wait to read about the other ladies... Veronique

Angie said...

Another fantastic post! I look forward to the rest of the series. We could all stand to take a moment to remember the strong women who came before us.

Fashion, Art and other fancies said...

What a delightful series. Always enjoyed the Giant. So nice to see the ladies here. Hope you are keeping happy and warm;-)

Anonymous said...

ooh I should totally read this book!

Josie said...

She finds the greatest books! I HAVE to read this one.
xo Josie

Gayatri said...

What a great series you've started. Cannot wait to read the rest!


Couture Carrie said...

Awesome post, darling!
Must read!


Anonymous said...

The cover of that book reminds me of the packaging for Soap & Glory over here in the uk, you can't beat the glamour of that time. Surely she must have dated though? She must just have been very good at hiding it!

Bhav x

p.s. That Morgan Freeman post has me in stitches. More pictures of him with a cat on his head please

Bonnie said...

I have seen Cafe Fashionista's post on this. I am so interested in it, but I don't have the time to ready anything that isn't directly related to school. How lame, right?
Twitter: @GlamKitten88

FashionJazz said...

I have to read this one :)

Hope you are having a lovely Monday babe xx

The Blonde Duck said...

I want to be a writer like that.

Sarah said...

Must read this!

Courtney Erin said...

Wow, that's so going on my reading list!

xoxo ~ Courtney

Shalini said...

Now I have a new goal: have a nonserious musical I write turned into a serious novel about discrimination and death. Thanks Edna!

Stephanie said...

I love that you're featuring authors! You write lovely biographical posts about the stars, but it's great to focus on the people who actually created the stories that made the stars famous. Your blog always feeds my brain.

Kavery said...

She never dated anyone? That's rather sad but to each their own. I must see if I can borrow a copy of her book on Hollywood

Alison said...

That sounds like a fascinating book. I am in love with the fashion, but especially the hats and more dramatic makeup of the times.

Meri said...

As usual, you are my muse for what media to consume or explore next! Ive had this book home from the library but didn't actually get around to reading it before it was due (silly waitlists!) I might have to try and get it again! I love the 20s.

SassyUptownChic said...

What a fabulous story! I have to wonder if what she wrote about she experienced herself. I love GIANT with Elizabeth Taylor and Showboat. I didn't know her story and I'm very interested in getting that book. Thanks for sharing Jennifer! ((HUG))

Veronica said...

Awesome blog, dear! Follow your blog!))
Can you follow me back?))

Audrey Allure said...

Interesting! That book sounds amazing, will be looking out for it.

Arielle said...

I'll have to add that book to my list. There's so many I want right now! Great post :)


Nathan said...

I have been teaching high school English for 15 years and probably my most favorite story to teach is Edna Ferber's "The Gay Old Dog". What a remarkably fantastic little story. I wish I could have met her to thank her for such a piece of writing. My students always laugh at the title, but they could never guess that it has nothing to do with a homosexual canine. It is about an apparently dapper man in his fifties whose life is ruined because he made his mother a deathbed promise that he would not marry until his three younger, selfish sisters were all married and cared for. Joe Hertz misses his opportunity to marry Emily, and so he lives the facade of a happy wealthy man though his life is utterly miserable.