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Women's History
Edna Ferber



Edna Ferber
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.53

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    best-read, lyricist, saleswoman, chronicle, theatrical, novelist, blockbuster, journalism, saga, talkie, journalist, writing, epic, additional, editor, essay
     content words:    Edna Ferber, Although Ferber, Julia Ferber, Appleton Daily Crescent, Northwestern University, Milwaukee Journal, Dawn O'Hara, New York, Emma McChesney, Our Mrs


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Edna Ferber
By Jamie Kee
  

1     Edna Ferber, an accomplished female writer, is well known for her strong female characters. She developed her skills as a writer due in part to her keen sense of observation as a journalist. Although Ferber began writing in the field of journalism at a young age, she became a respected writer who celebrated the American culture through the powerful heroines in her stories.
 
2     Ferber was born on August 15, 1885, into a Jewish household in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her parents were Jacob and Julia Ferber. During her early years, the family lived in Chicago, Illinois, and Ottumwa, Iowa. At the age of twelve, the family moved to Appleton, Wisconsin, where Ferber attended high school and served as editor of her school newspaper. During Ferber's senior year, she wrote an essay that impressed the editor of the Appleton Daily Crescent. He offered her a reporter's job for $3.00 a week when she was only seventeen years old. Although Ferber wanted to study at Northwestern University, she realized she needed to take the job in order to help the family financially. Ferber later worked for the Milwaukee Journal.
 
3     Beginning a career so early in journalism allowed Ferber to gain an eye for small details. This ability would later show up in her writings. Through her job, she was also able to have close contact with working men and women. These were the type of characters who would later be found in her books. Ferber was a professional and hard working writer. Unfortunately, she overworked herself to the point of collapse and was sent home while working for the Milwaukee Journal in order to recuperate from anemia. While at home, Ferber wrote her first short story which was quickly published. At age twenty-six, she also completed and published her first novel, Dawn O'Hara (1910), which was reasonably successful. Dawn O'Hara is a story about a New York newspaper woman who was worn down by years of necessary work in order to pay for the care of her mentally ill husband. She finds herself back home in Michigan on doctor's orders. Because of the loving care of her family and the special attention of a handsome German doctor, Dawn slowly comes back to life. The book was based in part on some of Ferber's own experiences as a journalist.

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