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Manuscript Collection

Fannie Hurst, 1889-1968. American Author.

Fannie Hurst

Finding Aid for the Fannie Hurst Papers [MSS058]

Fannie Hurst was an American novelist who was also very prominent in philanthropic and civic affairs. Raised in St. Louis, she received her B.A. from Washington University in 1909, and then went to New York to do graduate work at Columbia University. Hurst began writing short stories for popular magazines in 1914, and went on to produce many best-selling novels, the best known of which are Back Street (1931), and Imitation of Life (1933). Many of her novels were made into films, and she herself wrote 12 filmscripts, including "Humoresque" and "Symphony of Six Million." She was also a frequent contributor to magazines and regularly appeared on radio and television programs.

Hurst was an active philanthropist and leader in civic affairs. She served on many boards and committees, particularly during Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency. She was chairman of the National Housing Commission (1936-1937), a member of the National Committee to The Works Progress Administration (1940-1941), and, later, a delegate to the World Health Organization Assembly (1952). Upon Hurst's death a large part of her estate came in a bequest to Washington University, a portion of which was used to create the Hurst Professorship in the Department of English for visiting writers.

Collection Description

The Fannie Hurst Papers consist of a small quantity of correspondence (most of it between Hurst and her school friend Lois Toensfeldt), the manuscript for her novel Quiet Street, some diary material, and a group of clippings and memorabilia. Special Collections also holds Hurst's personal collection of her published work which includes a complete set of first and variant editions, translations, and other copies of her books.