“Fannie: The Talent for Success of Writer Fannie Hurst”
By Donna Seaman
Fannie Hurst (1889-1968) was an extraordinarily popular short-story writer. The Saturday Evening Post and Cosmopolitan competed for her tales of shopgirls and poor immigrant families, and her story collections, novels, and their movie versions (most famously Imitation of Life), were widely discussed. Attractive and intrepid, Hurst became a celebrity. Regularly quoted on such topics as race relations, feminism, and health, she was friends with the likes of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and Zora Neale Hurston, then, after decades of fame, was abruptly forgotten. Kroeger, who resurrected reporter Nellie Bly in her first biography, reclaims Hurst, a born storyteller and maverick, in a radiant portrait that also incisively illuminates the mores of her turbulent times. The story begins in Hurst’s hometown, St. Louis, where she attended Washington University. “Violently ambitious” and leery of marriage, Hurst moved to New York City, devoted herself to writing her daringly frank and earthy stories, and fashioned an unconventional and dazzlingly successful life. Even she admitted that she wasn’t as literary a writer as, say, F Scott Fitzgerald, but Hurst wrote with passion and empathy, and lived with verve, and it’s good to have her among us again. -Donna Seaman
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