Lover of the Fancy

Early C20th American culture and dissent

Dawn O’ Hara: The Girl Who Laughed
Edna Ferber


After a breakdown brought on by too much work, Dawn O’Hara begins to reevaluate her purpose in life. Ashamed of her husband, stuck in a rut in the big city, Dawn finds work at a small-town newspaper and does her best to adjust to the rhythms of rural life. Dawn O’Hara: The Girl Who Laughed is a novel by Edna Ferber.

Paperback, 158pp
Mint Editions, 2021 (1911)
ISBN 9781513283180


EDNA FERBER (1885-1968) was an American novelist, playwright, and short story writer. Born in Kalamazoo, Michigan to Jewish parents, Ferber was raised in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Economic hardship and antisemitism made their family a tight knit one as they moved constantly throughout Edna’s youth. At 17, she gave up her dream of studying to be an actor to support her family, finding work at the Appleton Daily Crescent and the Milwaukee Journal as a reporter. In 1911, while recovering from anemia, Ferber published her debut novel, Dawn O’Hara: The Girl Who Laughed, earning a reputation as a rising star in American literature. In 1925, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her novel So Big, which follows a young woman from a suburb of Chicago who takes a job as a teacher in a rural town. She followed up her critically acclaimed bestseller with the novel Show Boat (1926), which was adapted into a popular musical by Oscar Hammerstein and P. G. Wodehouse the year after its release. Several of her books became successful film and theater productions – So Big served as source material for a 1932 movie starring Barbara Stanwick, George Brent, and Bette Davis, which was remade in 1953 with Jane Wyman in the lead role. Ferber spent most of her life in New York City, where she became a member of the influential Algonquin Round Table group. In the leadup to the Second World War, Ferber supported President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was a fierce critic of Hitler and antisemitism around the world.