Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Emily Kimbrough

Emily Kimbrough (1898–1989), popular writer, lecturer, and radio commentator of the mid-20th century.

Emily Kimbrough is best remembered for her popular travel writing and light humor. She was a regular contributor to The New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly and was a popular speaker. Twice each year, in the days before World War II, she embarked on a six to eight week lecture tour. In 1952 Kimbrough settled down to join WCBS radio with a 25-minute daily talk show, The Emily Kimbrough Show.
Kimbrough began her writing career in the 1920s as a fashion editor, first at Marshall Field & Company and then for the Ladies Home Journal. From 1927 to 1929 she was managing editor of the Ladies Home Journal. She resigned from the Journal to pursue a freelance writing career.
One of her most popular books was Our Hearts Were Young and Gay (1942), which she co-wrote with Cornelia Otis Skinner. This best-seller chronicled the European tour the authors took during the 1920s. The book was made into a motion picture, and Kimbrough recounts what happened when she and Skinner answered Hollywood’s siren call in We Followed Our Hearts to Hollywood (1943).

Forty-plus with an abundance of luggage.
In 1954 she was not young and gay, but Forty Plus and Fancy Free. The book tells of a trip she took to Italy and to England for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. She and a small group of friends convinced themselves that there was nothing to stop them from undertaking this adventure, since they were unneeded by children and grandchildren (and since “we haven’t a husband among us”). Kimbrough forgot one thing, however: she worked for CBS.
…[I]t had been so many years since I had worked for an organization I had failed to include in my calculations for the trip the necessity of receiving permission to make it. Delivering aloud an announcement [to myself] is an abracadabra that works for me…but it might not be sufficiently powerful magic to bring an entire organization to heel.
Turns out, it was. She covered the coronation for CBS and took the remainder of the trip as a vacation. 

Kimbrough wrote over a dozen more books, the last one published in 1976. Her home town of Muncie, Indiana, appeared in much of her writing. In 1976 the town honored her by creating the Emily Kimbrough Historic District

From Femilogue’s own copy of Forty Plus and Fancy Free.

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