Bessie Breuer

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Bessie Breuer (October 19, 1893 – September 26, 1975) was an American journalist, novelist, writer, and playwright.


Breuer was born with the name Elizabeth Freedman in Cleveland, Ohio to Samuel Aaron Freedman, a cantor and composer, and Julia Freedman. She studied journalism at Missouri State University and then worked as a reporter for the St. Louis Times in her late teens.[1] She later became an editor for the New York Tribune, first working as the head of the women's department and then, at the age of 22, becoming the Sunday editor. She left that position to become the national director of magazine publicity for the American Red Cross at the end of World War I, and subsequently joined the staff of the Ladies Home Journal. She also contributed articles on feminism to Harper's Magazine and the Pictorial Review.[2]

Part of the expatriate movement, Breuer moved to France in the early 1920s and began writing fiction under the encouragement of Kay Boyle and Laurence Vail among others. Her first works of fiction to be published were short stories in Story and Harper's magazines. In 1925 she married her third husband, the painter Henry Varnum Poor (previously she had been married to Mr. Breuer and Carl Kahler). This third marriage of 45 years standing ended with Poor's death in 1970.[2]

Breuer's first novel Memory of Love (1935)[2] was made into a film in 1939 entitled In Name Only. The film starred Cary Grant and Carole Lombard.[3] Her other novels include The Daughter (1938), The Actress (1955), and Take Care of My Roses (1961). A prolific writer of short stories, she won four O. Henry Awards between 1943 and 1947. One of her stories is included in 55 Short Stories from the New Yorker and a collection of her stories was published, entitled The Bracelet of Wavia Lea and Other Stories (1947). Her only play, Sundown Beach, which was about WW II fliers suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, premiered on Broadway in 1948. It was directed by Elia Kazan.[2] It featured the young, unknown actress Julie Harris and was the first Broadway venue of the Actors' Studio.[4]

During World War II, Breuer worked for the United States Office of War Information. She also wrote for such periodicals as World's Work, House Beautiful, Mademoiselle, and The New Yorker until the 1960s.[1] She died at the age of 81 at her home in New City, New York. She had two children, Peter and Anne, and three grandchildren.[2]


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