EDNA FERBER was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on August 15, 1885, the younger of two daughters of Jacob and Julia Neumann Ferber, Hungarian immigrants. The family moved to Appleton, Wisconsin, where she worked as a cub reporter for the Appleton Daily Crescent. From 1905 until 1910, Ferber was a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal, where she encountered the former reporter Zona Gale, whom she later called an early influence.
From her newspaper work Ferber developed an astute journalistic sense that shaped her stories and her feminist convictions. Her first novel, Dawn O'Hara, The Girl Who Laughed, was published in 1911. Although Ferber herself thought the novel too sentimental, it was favorably reviewed and would continue to gain in popularity over the years. Emma McChesney and Co. ( 1915) had been published as a series of stories from 1911 to 1915 in American and Cosmopolitan magazines. Published in two additional volumes as Personality Plus and Roast Beef Medium, the stories brought Ferber national recognition; President Theodore Roosevelt was one of the stories' devoted readers. Through her character Emma, Ferber championed the independent woman seeking adventure, stimulation, and income. In Cheerful, by Request ( 1918), another collection of short stories, Ferber continued her portrayals of energetic female characters who could be seen as representatives for the modern woman.
The publication of So Big in 1924 marked the beginning of Ferber's career as a best-selling novelist; the book sold well in America and Europe and received the 1924 Pulitzer Prize. The novel Show Boat ( 1926) became the basis for the classic musical that opened in 1927, coinciding with the Broadway success of The Royal Family, the first of five plays Ferber wrote in collaboration with George S. Kaufman.By the time her novel Cimarron appeared in 1930, Ferber had achieved extraordinary success and had become a leading figure in New York social circles. Cimarron was adapted to film in 1931 and again in 1960. Ferber enjoyed two further Broadway successes with Kaufman, Dinner At Eight ( 1932) and Stage Door ( 1936).
In 1931, Rudyard Kipling enthusiastically described Ferber as a "historical painter" of American experience. She was militantly pro‐ American in her depiction of life in various sections of the country— and a meticulous researcher. After the publication of American Beauty ( 1931)