Edna Ferber Biography
(1885–1968), Dawn O'Hara, the Girl Who Laughed, So Big, Showboat, Cimarron, Saratoga Trunk
American novelist, born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She began her writing career as a cub reporter with a local paper but soon turned to fiction; her first novel, Dawn O'Hara, the Girl Who Laughed, was published in 1911. A prolific writer, she enjoyed popular success with such later novels as the family drama So Big (1924), set on a farm. The colourful Showboat (1926), with its tragic sub-plot of racism and miscegenation, has been filmed and continues to be revived on international musical stages, and is probably her main claim to lasting popularity. Often dismissed as sentimental and didactic—qualities that prevail in the works mentioned above—Ferber has nevertheless been praised for her socio-historical research and authentic portrayals of the American experience in romantic sagas such as Cimarron (1930) and Saratoga Trunk (1941). The immensely successful Giant (1952) is the epic story of a Texas family whose ranch serves as a metaphor for the oil-rich state; this, too, was successfully filmed, and probably influenced popular culture in the shape of such long-running soap operas as Dallas. Her last published work was an autobiography, A Kind of Magic (1963).