Gwen Bristow: Best Selling Author 1903-1980

Gwen Bristow, though not originally from New Orleans, was a great contributor to both Southern literature and the Times-Picayune newspaper. She helped mold the face of Southern writing into what it is today, influencing entire generations of New Orleanian-based writers.

Bristow was born in 1903 in South Carolina, where she spent her childhood. [1] After graduating from Judson College, located in Marion, Alabama, in 1924 with a degree in both English and French, she continued on to study at the Pulitzer School of Journalism at Colombia University in New York. [2] It is hardly surprising then, that Bristow went on to become a successful historical novelist with her fiction firmly rooted in the South, as it was as much a part of her life as writing was.

During her year at Columbia, she worked as a secretary, earning money by typing papers for others and writing for trade journals. [2] After graduation, she moved to New Orleans and began writing for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and eventually met her husband, Bruce Manning, who was a journalist for the Item. [2] Together, they wrote and published their first book, The Invisible Host.

Bristow moved to Connecticut briefly and worked on her fourth novel, which she had trouble selling, before moving to Hollywood, where she began a trilogy in 1930 set in Louisiana that followed, "...the lives of two families from pre-Revolutionary days to World War I: Deep Summer, Handsome Road, and This Side of Glory." [2] All three did very well and she continued on with a string of best-sellers.

Bristow moved back to New Orleans, where she died in 1980 at the age of 76. [1] In 1989, she was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame because although she, "...was neither born in Alabama nor died there, she had very close Alabama connections," where she completed her undergraduate degrees. [2] Much in the same way, while she was not born in New Orleans, she did have close ties to the city, and she had as much of an impact on the city as the city seemed to have on her.



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