Fannie Hurst

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Fannie Hurst in 1932, portrait by Carl Van Vechten.

Fannie Hurst (October 18, 1889 – February 23, 1968)[1] was an American novelist. Although her books are not well remembered today,[by whom?] during her lifetime some[which?] of her more famous[peacock term] novels were Stardust (1919), Lummox (1923), A President is Born (1927), Back Street (1931), and Imitation of Life (1933). Hurst is now best known for the screen adaptations of her works, such as the 1934 film Imitation of Life and the 1959 remake, based on her novel, which examined race relations.


Fannie Hurst with Eleanor Roosevelt in 1962

Hurst was born in Hamilton, Ohio, the only surviving child of a well-to-do Jewish family. She spent the first twenty years of her life in St. Louis, Missouri, where she attended Washington University in St. Louis and graduated in 1909. In 1915 she married Jacques S. Danielson of New York, a pianist, but the marriage was not announced until five years later.

In 1921, Hurst was among the first to join the Lucy Stone League, an organization that fought for women to preserve their maiden names. She was active in the Urban League, and was appointed to the National Advisory Committee to the Works Progress Administration in 1940. She was a member of the feminist intellectual group Heterodoxy in Greenwich Village, and a delegate to the World Health Organization in 1952.

When Hurst and Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson were having a long affair,[2][3][4] they often met in New York City's Greenwich Village at Romany Marie's café when Stefansson was in town; he was a regular there for many years and a good friend of the proprietor.

Hurst hosted a talk show out of New York called Showcase beginning in 1958.[5] Showcase was notable for presenting several of the earliest well-rounded discussions of homosexuality and was one of the few on which homosexual men spoke for themselves rather than being debated by a panel of "experts".[6] Hurst was praised by early homophile group the Mattachine Society which invited Hurst to deliver the keynote address at the Society's 1958 convention.[7]

F. Scott Fitzgerald presciently described her as one of several authors "not producing among 'em one story or novel that will last 10 years."[8]

Hurst died in 1968, at the age of 78, in New York City.[1] The first full biography of Hurst, by Brooke Kroeger, was published in 1999.

References in popular culture[edit]

"Hope for the best, expect the worst.
You could be Tolstoy or Fannie Hurst."
"You're so kippers, you're so caviar and I'm so liverwurst.
You're so Shakespeare, so Bernard Shaw and I'm so Fannie Hurst."


Story collections[edit]





  1. ^ a b West, Kathryn (2004). "Fannie Hurst". In Wintz, Cary D. Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance. 1: A-J. Finkelman, Paul. New York and Abingdon: Routledge. pp. 596–597. ISBN 1-57958-389-X. Retrieved June 21, 2010. 
  2. ^ Fannie Hurst. Anatomy of Me: A Wonderer in Search of Herself (p. 219). New York: Doubleday, 1958. ISBN 0-405-12843-6.
  3. ^ Gísli Pálsson. Travelling Passions: The Hidden Life Of Vilhjalmur Stefansson (pp. 187, 195). Lebanon: University Press of New England, 2005. ISBN 1-58465-510-0.
  4. ^ Robert Shulman. Romany Marie: The Queen of Greenwich Village (p. 144). Louisville: Butler Books, 2006. ISBN 1-884532-74-8.
  5. ^ "Yakety-Yak". TIME magazine. 1959-04-06. Retrieved 2009-01-10. 
  6. ^ Tropiano, pp. 4–5
  7. ^ Capsuto, Steven. "Kudos! AGLA's and GLAAD's Gay and Lesbian Media Awards". Retrieved 2009-01-10. 
  8. ^ This Side of Paradise. 1920 


External links[edit]