Fannie Hurst

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Carl van Vechten : Fannie Hurst, 1932

Fannie Hurst (born October 19, 1889 in Hamilton , Ohio , † February 23, 1968 in New York City ) was an American writer and journalist at the beginning of the 20th century. She became known through a large number of novels and short stories , some of which were made into films with great success. Her most famous works include Back Street , Imitation of Life and Humoresque .


Fannie Hurst grew up in St. Louis as the second child of a German - Jewish immigrant family . Her older sister died in an accident. Her father, Samuel Hurst, emigrated to America in the 1860s and became a successful shoe manufacturer. Her mother, Rose Koppel, grew up on a farm in Ohio.

Carl van Vechten: Fannie Hurst, 1938

Fannie's upbringing was closely monitored by her parents. She was considered precocious and extremely intelligent. In high school she began writing and handed their stories in national newspapers, among others, in The Saturday Evening Post and Reedy's Mirror . In 1909 Hurst received her PhD from Washington University in St. Louis and the following year she celebrated her first literary success with the publication of the story It's not Wonderful Life . Against her parents' wishes, she went to New York City to study at Columbia University . Without financial support from her parents, Hurst worked as a nanny, waitress and sold short stories to various magazines. In 1915 she secretly married the Russian pianist Jacque Danielson (1885–1952), the marriage only became public knowledge around 1920. In the 1930s she had a long affair with the Canadian polar explorer Vilhjálmur Stefánsson .

Hurst was one of the first members of the women's organization Lucy Stone League , founded by Ruth Hale , whose aim, among other things, was that women can keep their maiden name after marriage. Among the co-founders were Jane Grant , wife of Harold Ross , and Beatrice Kaufman , wife of the playwright George Simon Kaufman . Other members were Neysa McMein , Janet Flanner , Franklin Pierce Adams , Solita Solano , Anita Loos and Blanche Oelrichs . In the following years she was involved with her friend Eleanor Roosevelt in several social organizations, including the National Urban League , National Advisory Committee , Works Progress Administration and the World Health Organization ( English World Health Organization , WHO ).

Fannie Hurst died at the age of 78 after a short illness in her apartment in the Hotel des Artistes in New York City. After the news of her death, the New York Times published an obituary on its first page. Between 1909 and 1968, Hurst wrote eighteen novels and more than 300 short stories, as well as plays, scripts, memoirs, essays and newspaper articles. Her books have been translated into eighteen languages, and between 1918 and 1961 her stories and novels became the literary source of nearly 30 films.

Imitation of Life was first filmed in 1934 with Claudette Colbert under the title Imitation of Life and again in 1959 under the same title with Lana Turner in the lead role. Further adaptations were made, for example, of Back Street ( 1932 , 1941 , 1961) , Four Daughters ( 1938 ) Five and Ten (1931) and of Humoreske (1920, 1946 ).

Works (selection)

  • 1914 Just around the Corner
  • 1916 Every Soul Hath Its Song
  • 1918 Gaslight Sonatas
  • 1919 Humoresque
  • 1921 Star-dust: The Story of an American Girl
  • 1922 The Vertical City
  • 1923 Lummox
  • 1926 Appassionata
  • 1926 Mannequin (German Mannequin. Roman , Vienna and Zurich 1927)
  • 1927 Song of Life
  • 1928 A President Is Born
  • 1929 Five and Ten
  • 1929 Procession
  • 1931 Back Street
  • 1933 Imitation of Life
  • 1934 Anitra's Dance
  • 1935 No Food with My Meals
  • 1936 Great Laughter
  • 1937 We Are Ten
  • 1939 Today Is Ladies' Day
  • 1942 Lonely Parade
  • 1942 White Christmas
  • 1944 Hallelujah
  • 1947 The Hands of Veronica
  • 1950 Anywoman (German: A woman like you. Roman , Bern 1951)
  • 1950 Four Daughters
  • 1951 The Name Is Mary
  • 1953 The Man with One Head
  • 1958 Anatomy of Me: a Wonderer in Search of Herself (autobiography)
  • 1960 Family!
  • 1961 God Must Be Sad
  • 1964 Fool, Be Still

Film adaptations (selection)


  • Susan Koppelman: The Stories of Fannie Hurst. The Feminist Press at Cuny, 2004, ISBN 1-55861-483-4 .
  • Brooke Kroeger: Fannie: The Talent for Success of Writer Fannie Hurst. Crown Publishing Group, 1999, ISBN 0-8129-2497-5 .
  • Fannie Hurst: Anatomy of Me: A Wonderer in Search of Herself. Doubleday, New York 1958, ISBN 0-405-12843-6 .
  • Gísli Pálsson : Traveling Passions: The Hidden Life Of Vilhjalmur Stefansson. University Press of New England, Lebanon 2005, ISBN 1-58465-510-0 .
  • Robert Shulman: Romany Marie: The Queen of Greenwich Village. Butler Books, Louisville 2006, ISBN 1-884532-74-8 .

Web links

Commons : Fannie Hurst  - collection of images, videos and audio files