Edna Ferber

Franklin Library Edna Ferber books

So Big - Pulitzer Prize Classics - 1978
Giant - World's Best Loved Books - 1979
One Basket - Collected Stories of the World's Greatest Writers - 1982

Writer Edna Ferber biography

Edna Ferber (August 15, 1885 – April 16, 1968) was an American novelist, short story writer, and playwright, celebrated for her vivid and often humorous portrayals of American life. Born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Ferber grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin. Her early experiences as a journalist and her passion for writing led her to a successful and prolific literary career. Ferber began her writing career as a reporter for the Appleton Daily Crescent at the age of 17. Her early journalism work laid the foundation for her keen observations of people and places, which later became a hallmark of her fiction. She moved to Chicago and continued her career in journalism, eventually transitioning to fiction writing.

The first books by Edna Ferber which earned her fame were fictional stories about a woman named Emma McChesney working within the American business world. These books which were originally started as short stories are Roast Beef Medium (1913(, Personality Plus (1914), and Emma McChesney and Co. (1915). Books by Edna Ferber are mostly centered around American working and business class people and their achievements which contribute to America prosperity. Some of the other books by Edna Ferber which are notable in American literature include Dawn O'Hara (1911), Fanny Herself (1917), The Girls (1921), So Big (1924), Show Boat (1926), Mother Knows Best (short stories, 1927), Cimarron (1930), A Peculiar Treasure (autobiography, 1939), Saratoga Trunk (1941), Great Son (1945), One Basket (short stories, 1947), Giant (1952), Ice Palace (1958)and A Kind of Magic (autobiography, 1963). Perhaps the two books that Edna Ferber is best known for are Giant, and So Big which she won the Pulitzer Prize for in 1928. A number of her books were made into movies such as Giant, Ice Palace, and Show Boat. The movie version of Cimarron even won an Oscar. Two of Edna Ferber's books were made into musicals including Saratoga Trunk and Show Boat which has earned notable fame. The many plays by Edna Ferber include Minick (1924), The Royal Family (1927), Dinner at Eight (1932), Stage Door (1936), The Land is Bright (1941), and Bravo (1948).

One of Ferber's most notable works is So Big (1924), a novel that earned her the Pulitzer Prize. The story follows the life of a determined woman named Selina Peake DeJong as she faces the challenges and triumphs of raising a family in the Midwest. Another significant achievement was her collaboration with George S. Kaufman in writing the play Dinner at Eight (1932), which became a successful Broadway production. Edna Ferber is perhaps best known for her novel Show Boat (1926), which explores the lives of performers on a Mississippi River showboat and addresses issues such as race and social change. The novel was later adapted into a successful musical.

Throughout her career, Ferber wrote novels, short stories, and plays that often depicted the changing landscape of America, capturing the essence of different eras and regions. Her works were known for their strong characters, social commentary, and a blend of humor and poignancy. Edna Ferber passed away on April 16, 1968, leaving behind a rich literary legacy that continues to be appreciated for its insight into the complexities of American society. Her impact on American literature and her contributions to both fiction and drama have solidified her place as a significant figure in the literary landscape of the 20th century.

So Big

So Big is about a material man, son of his earth-grubbing, idealistic mother. Left an orphan at 19 years old in the late 1880s, Selina Peake needs to support herself. She leaves the city life she has known to become a teacher in the farming community of High Prairie, IL. Her father had told her that life is an adventure, and one should make the most of it.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and widely considered to be Edna Ferber's greatest achievement, So Big is a classic novel of turn-of-the-century Chicago. It is the unforgettable story of Selina Peake DeJong, a gambler's daughter, and her struggles to stay afloat and maintain her dignity and her sanity in the face of marriage, widowhood, and single parenthood.

A brilliant literary masterwork from one of the twentieth century's most accomplished and admired writers, the remarkable So Big still resonates with its unflinching view of poverty, sexism, and the drive for success.


When larger-than-life cattle rancher Jordan "Bick" Benedict arrives at the family home of sharp-witted but genteel Virginia socialite Leslie Lynnton to purchase a racehorse, the two are instantly drawn to each other. But for Leslie, falling in love with a Texan was a lot simpler than falling in love with Texas. Upon their arrival at Bick's ranch, Leslie is confronted not only with the oppressive heat and vastness of Texas but also by the disturbing inequity between runaway riches and the poverty and racism suffered by the Mexican workers on the ranch. Leslie and Bick's loving union endures against all odds, but a reckoning is coming and a price will have to be paid.

A sensational and enthralling saga, Ferber masterfully captures the essence of Texas with all its wealth and excess, cruelty and prejudice, pride and violence.

This sweeping tale captures the essence of Texas on a staggering scale as it chronicles the life and times of cattleman Jordan "Bick" Benedict, his naive young society wife, Leslie, and three generations of land-rich sons. A sensational story of power, love, cattle barons, and oil tycoons, Giant was the basis of the classic film starring James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and Rock Hudson.

One Basket

Before she tried to be a good woman she had been a very bad woman-so bad that she could trail her wonderful apparel up and down Main Street, from the Elm Tree Bakery to the railroad tracks, without once having a man doff his hat to her or a woman bow. You passed her on the street with a surreptitious glance, though she was well worth looking at-in her furs and laces and plumes. She had the only full-length mink coat in our town, and Ganz's shoe store sent to Chicago for her shoes. Hers were the miraculously small feet you frequently see in stout women. Usually she walked alone; but on rare occasions, especially round Christmastime, she might have been seen accompanied by some silent, dull-eyed, stupid-looking girl, who would follow her dumbly in and out of stores, stopping now and then to admire a cheap comb or a chain set with flashy imitation stones-or, queerly enough, a doll with yellow hair and blue eyes and very pink cheeks. But, alone or in company, her appearance in the stores of our town was the signal for a sudden jump in the cost of living. The storekeepers mulcted her; and she knew it and paid in silence, for she was of the class that has no redress. She owned the House with the Closed Shutters, near the freight depot-did Blanche Devine.

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