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Name:    Hurst, Fannie
Born/Started:     Oct. 19, 1885
Died/Ended:     Feb. 23, 1968
Description:    Fannie Hurst was one of the most widely published and highest paid short story writers in America during the early part of the 20th century.

Born in Hamilton, OH to German Jewish parents who soon moved to St. Louis, she began writing at age seven and composed stores at the age of 13. Hurst attended Central High School and University of Missouri Journalism School, but became homesick and returned to St. Louis’ Washington University. In 1909, the year of her graduation, she wrote The Official Chaperone, the first musical comedy performed at Washington University. She had many of her college works published in the Mirror.

Hurst did graduate work at Washington University, then, seeking other experiences, she assumed the name of Rose Samuels and got a job for two weeks working at a shoe factory with immigrant girls. She published a story of the appalling working conditions in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and became an advocate of labor reforms.

In 1910 she moved to New York, where she had articles published in the Saturday Evening Post. In 1921 she published her first book Star-Dust. Her stories described the lives and working conditions of lower and middle class women and the poverty of the various ethnic groups on New York´s East Side.

Hurst was one of the first writers to have her own radio show and later had her own television talk show. Many of her novels were made into movies, including "Imitation of Life" in 1934 and "Humoresque", filmed twice. When she died, she bequeathed half her estate to the Jewish Brandeis University and the other half to Washington University, despite her opinion that Washington University did nothing to encourage her work. Today there is a yearly Hurst professorship, whose ranks have included many highly esteemed writers.

Literary St. Louis: a Guide



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