Edna Ferber was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Aug. 15, 1885. She spent her early career as a reporter. In 1910, Everybody's Magazine published her short story, The Homely Heroine, set in Appleton, Wisconsin. Ferber's novel, Dawn O'Hara, the story of a newspaperwoman in Milwaukee, followed in 1911. She gained national attention for her series of Emma McChesney stories, tales of a traveling underskirt saleswoman that were published in national magazines. A play based on the stories, Our Mrs. McChesney, was produced in 1915, starring Ethel Barrymore. With collaborator George S. Kaufman, Ferber wrote acclaimed plays Dinner at Eight and The Royal Family. Ferber won the Pulitzer Prize in 1925 for So Big, the story of a woman raising a child on a truck farm outside of Chicago. Her best known books include Show Boat, Cimarron, Giant and Ice Palace. Show Boat was made into a classic movie and Broadway musical; the film version of Cimarron, won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1931. Ferber wrote two autobiographies, A Peculiar Treasure published in 1939 and A Kind of Magic in 1963. She died of cancer on April 16, 1968.
Kaufman, was born in Pittsburgh, attended law school for two years, failed as a business person, and became a humorist for Franklin P. Adams's column before joining the New York Times, whose drama editor he became in the 1920s. Kaufman was sole author of one long play and two one-act plays, including the popular The Butter and Egg Man (1926), but he collaborated on more than 25 plays, most importantly with Moss Hart, but also with Marc Connelly, Edna Ferber, and others, including Ring Lardner and John P. Marquand. These plays range from the hilarious madness of Cocoanuts (1929) and Animal Crackers (1928), two Marx Brothers shows that Kaufman worked on, to the comic pathos of Stage Door (1936) (with Edna Ferber). Commenting on why he did not write true satire, Kaufman said, "Satire is what closes Saturday night." Kaufman, Morris Ryskind, and Ira Gershwin won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for Of Thee I Sing (1932) and Kaufman and Hart for You Can't Take It with You (1937).