Sexy, jazzy, and more than just a little bit troubled--women like Edna St. Vincent Millay, Dorthy Parker, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Edna Ferber made their marks on the world of literature in the 1920's. In Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin, Marion Meade follows the triumphs and failures, the romances and break-ups, along with all those boughts with depression and madness. What was the price for such talents as these--for women who ran wild in the 1920's?
Taken one-by-one, these women led extraordinary lives. They took society by storm, seemingly unafraid or undeterred by the hard knocks life seemed to continually throw their way. Together, they are much more. In some small way, they re-wrote the literary map, helping to usher in a new way of thinking and writing.
If they have now slipped into the cracks of literary history, it is not from lack of trying to create an irrepressible bang. Perhaps these women have just been waiting on the fringes for such a book as Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin to resurrect their legends and make their literature live again.
From Whence the Writers Arose
Emerging from a rather diverse and eclectic range of backgrounds, these women might have persued any number of occupations. Yet each of these women joined the ranks of new women writers. The passion that they exhibited in life seeped into their writings, and they became known for the ways in which their words expressed inner angst and depth of feeling.
Those same deeply felt emotions, which helped to make these writers so controversial and well-known, were also a source of debilitating sadness, lonliness, depression, and hopelessness. Dorthy Parker attempted to take her life on several occasions; Zelda Fitzgerald was eventually committed to a mental institution. Poor health, failed relationships, faded beauty, and the fall from popularity--all combined. All that jazz and inevitable possibility was over. In some sense, perhaps they had really lost their world. Marion Meade sums it all up rather nicely when she writes: "The endless party was over, and eventually even the ghostly whispers died out. For Dottie and Vincent and Edna and Zelda, and all those they loved, the Twenties would shortly roll into memory and myth, merely a stepping-stone on the way to the rest of their lifetimes.