|This brief biography was originally written by the late Glenn H. Waight.It was among his papers which were donated to the E.L Historical Society upon his death|
One of America's noted popular novelists of the 1930s lived and wrote for a time in East Liverpool, using the local setting and people for some of her work.
Katharine Brush, a native of Connecticut, was married to Thomas Stewart Brush of the Brush family involved in the ownership of The Review and other Ohio newspapers for many years.
Katharine had written since a child, and matured into a significant author who produced two best sellers which became movies. Critics compared her to F. Scott Fitzgerald in reflecting the exciting liberalization in the post-war "Jazz Age" of the Twenties.
She was born Aug. 15, 1903, at Middletown, Conn., daughter of Charles Samuel and Clara L. Northrup Ingham. Her father was the headmaster of the Dummer Academy (later Gov. Dummer) for Boys at Bycroft, Mass. The school was located in an 18th Century manse donated by Massachusetts Lt. Gov. William Dummer.
Since the school was for boys only, Katharine went to public school in Newburyport. She was a tomboy who played games, took music lessons and wrote stories to read to her dolls. At age 11, she turned to entertaining the lads at Dummer, enjoying her role as the only girl on the campus, dancing and making fudge for young visitors.
AFTER A YEAR, her parents decided she could learn more decorum and curriculum at a distant boarding school, so she went to Centenary Collegiate Institute at Hackettstown, N. J., the equivalent of high school. Here, she later said, she "learned nothing," and was known as a cutup, hellion and daredevil, often reprimanded and punished and suspended for a fortnight when she skipped dinner to sneak downtown for a meal with classmates.
She played field hockey, earned good marks in English and was noted as a versatile and rapid writer, producing themes and essays for classmates at a penny a page ~ her first profits as an author.
Katharine read a lot, and kept a diary, filling 15 composition notebooks in four years at school and two years afterward. These, along with letters, provided materials for later works, including her quasi-autobiography, "This Is On Me."
She managed to graduate from Centenary, but unable to master Latin, she needed that credit to enter college. So the family decided to delay her studies a year, and in 1920 she went three months to a secretarial school to learn typing and shorthand while boning up on Latin at home with her father.
Her parents knew the publisher of two partnered Boston papers - The Herald and The Traveler- so at age 16, she obtained an apprentice stenographer job there. She typed for the assistant drama editor, and when that person was promoted, took over her duties - writing a daily movie column from press releases, producing squibs for the editor to use in a gossip column and interviewing visiting entertainment personalities.
She worked at this for about a year and a half when she quit and became engaged to Thomas Stewart Brush. While preparing for her marriage, she wrote some, worked as a secretary and tutored students
Tom Brush was a big, red-haired, amusing man who ran a daily newspaper, The Review-Tribune, at East Liverpool for his father, Louis Brush of Salem. He had attended Andover and Dummer academies, spent two years in the Navy, went to Michigan University for a year, and worked for another year in the oil fields in Oklahoma.
He had moved to East Liverpool in 1918 with his father who managed the evening Review and the Morning Tribune which his publishing company had purchased.
Katherine in ivory and lace and young Brush (called "Stew") were married in 1920 at the headmaster's manse at Dummer with a matron of honor and four bridesmaids, then took a honeymoon motor trip to East Liverpool to her new home. They first resided in a first floor five-room flat in the Monroe Apartments on Monroe St. and later on in a house on the Northside.
The day after arrival, she wrote about the city:
East Liverpool seems to be about the size of Haverhill, and it is built in the wildest fashion - up and down the sides of hills that no prudent Massachusetts auto would dream of attempting in a city, and with potteries stuck in around among the downtown houses in a chummy sort of way. Near the potteries, the gutters run with bits of broken dishes - there is a special name for these, but I've forgotten what it is. All the potteries have brick beehives standing up all over their roofs - these are called kilns, and I made a big mistake when I said excitedly, 'Oh look, there's a pottery with only one pot!' Stew says I will never live it down.
IN HER NOVEL, "Red-Headed Woman," she tried to describe the area around East Liverpool as viewed from a train ("and with a jaundiced eye . . ."):
This was a country of mills and mines, of potteries and brickyards, of derricks strayed over from the neighboring Pennsylvania, black skeletons, lost and occasional here. This was a landscape dotted with small farmhouses and monstrous barns, and striped by red brick highways, wet and bright in today's rain, and by the mustard clay of upaved roads. Here were thin thickets, fallow fields, a miners settlement, a beacon for the airmail built upon a hill, a march of powerlines northward through a gash across the land. And now and then, in intermittent glimpses from the train, there was the river with its saffron water that the mills had dyed. "The beautiful Ohio," Lillian thought sardonically.
Katharine later noted in her autobiography that there was an attractive residential part of town and, after she'd been here a year or so, a country club and golf course. "These alleviating facts I did not fail to mention in subsequent fiction stories about a town named Renwood (an entirely imaginary town, needless to say). . . but there is no denying that the more grim and sordid sections of this dream city kept rearing their ugly heads in my written pages in future years. For instance
Think of hills and smoke. Steep hills without any trees, climbing up from the river, and smoke-colored clapboard louses tossed every which way down the sides of these hills... (Glitter, 1925)
Within two months, she purchased a second hand typewritter (Stew commented "I thought you were through with all that.") and proposed that she write a movie column for the Review-Tribune "for free." Of course she was paid, and for two and a half years produced the column which again consisted of press release re-writes, old columns and other squibs. She titled it "Prattle About Picture Plays" and used the pen name "Barbara Blake."
The bride also continued to read a lot, mostly modern novels which she studied and analyzed closely. She was fascinated by authors, and was surprised to learn that Mary Roberts Rinehart lived in Sewickley, up the Ohio River in Pennsylvania, and on train trips to Pittsburgh always looked for her home. She discovered later she was staring at the wrong house.
A son, Thomas B. Brush Jr., was bom in 1922, and she was busy for a while caring for the new arrival. But she soon was back writing in the early summer, using the small office at The Review for her columns but also turning out verses, sketches, articles and short stories submitted to magazines. All were rejected.
Stew had purchased a house at 822 Orchard Grove Ave. which she began decorating and refurnishing. She became depressed with her failures as an author, but received a letter of advice from a friend of her parents, Prof. William Lyon Phelps of Yale's English Department, one of the first U.S. teachers to specialize in modern literature. He wrote that her work showed cleverness, humor and skill, and "ought to eventually to succeed." However, he suggested she not "try too hard to be snappy."
KATHARINE IMMEDIATELY tried toning down her approach, producing "Home," about a boarding school lad spending Christmas with each of his divorced parents. After 11 failed submissions, it was bought for $50 by Munsey's magazine in 1924.
During 1922-23 she struggled with her verse writing, first romantic, then topical and finally sportive. East Liverpool's new country club and golf course reflected the golf craze sweeping the country. "The whole town has gone golf-mad," and she wrote "The Golf Widow's Lament" which sold in June for $5 to The American Golfer, chosen by Grantland Rice.
She herself played, winning the club's women's handicap tourney in September 1922 with a 96 in a field of 29. The prize was a special driver.
Stilll discouraged by the lack of response from the slick magazines, she decided to try the "naughty" monthlies popular with prep school boys and girls who hid them under their mattresses. She made a sale, then another, and saw a new field for her talent under an assumed byline.
But on an April 1924 visit to Newburyport and her parents, she discovered at a newstand a magazine in which her story displayed her real name. Fearing both her own reputation and the reputation and wrath of her father, she and a friend bought up all the issues in the area stores. The merchants re-ordered, of course, and after she went back to East Liverpool, the friend had to buy all the issues four times.
Katharine quit the "Torrid Tales" market later in 1924, working harder at greeting card verse, children's magazines rhymes, newspaper features on the Republican convention at Cleveland. One story was accepted by Cosmopolitan by a sub-editor, but was later turned down by the top editor. It was finally published in McClure's.
She began selling humorous personal stories for a section in College Humor, and in a letter-writing contest for the best suggestions of improving that magazine, she declared the best thing they could do would be publish her stories. An editor wrote back that they would if she submitted anything that was good.
Katharine did, and he did, she eventually writing about 40 stories and two novels for College Humor. Many dealt with the Flapper Era of raccoon coats, bathtub gin, bobbed hair and jazz.
The novels came about during a conference she had with the Humor staff at Chicago on plans for her work in the coming year. After arranging the story schedule, one editor suggested a serialized novel, about 70,000 words in five installments with a college atmosphere. Reportedly, Scott Fitzgerald and another genre writer, Dorothy Spears, wanted too much money.
She started the novel Dec. 20 and finished it May 10, also writing short stories at the time, working 12 to 14 hours a day. "Glitter" and its plot were the basis of two movies and was prepared for a third.
Katharine had given up the office at The Review, writing at home where the sun porch had been converted to a work place. She was busy with the novel, caring for the house, and taking the boy, now 3, on long drives. Louis Brush had purchased two more newspapers in Ohio, and Stew was away a lot on family business.
The housemaid fell down stairs, and was off for weeks. And the boy was ill for a while. Then in April the first installment of the novel hit the stands, and she still had two more to write. She labored away at the typewriter, wearing a blue smock for her duties at producing the final two installments.
IN 1925 The Review came under attack from the Ku Klux Klan which had become very active across the region. The local organization produced a weekly newspaper in which The Review was castigated for its anti-KKK stand, and mailed marked copies to the Brushes with scathing and menacing comments.
Stew was targeted in print as "a prominent newspaper publisher living on Orchard Grove Ave and his Eastern wife" which worried Katharine and which she later said was "all part of the nightmare that life in East Liverpool had become."
She gave up her movie column, and began covering events for the newly created Brush-Moore Newspapers chain created in 1923 with the purchase of President Warren Harding's Marion Star by Louis Brush, Roy Moore and East Liverpool attorney W. H. Vodrey.
Moore, a veteran newspaperman, came up with the idea of her becoming an occasional roving reporter-at-large for the five papers in the chain. So she started covering major train wrecks, big court cases, celebrity interviews, etc. Katharine did a series of articles on Ohio State University which was sold to more than 50 other Ohio journals.
She covered the Atlantic City Beauty Pageant which provided material for "Little Sins," and several sports events which led to "Young Man of Manhattan." One was the World Series between Pittsburgh and Washington for which she was assigned by Moore to do "color and the woman's angle."
Her Series articles were also sold to the Pittsburgh Chronicle-Telegraph. She obtained an interview with noted sports writer Ring Lardner, and met President Calvin Coolidge. Help with her sports writing was provided by Westbrook Pegler, Grantland Rice and others tops in the field.
The Pirates finally won, but Katharine, on the day of the deciding game, saw rain sweeping Forbes Field and expected the contest to be called after the second inning. She left to go downtown shopping at Joseph Horne's department store, buying a coffee table for her living room. On the way back to Oakland, she discovered crowds standing around on sidewalks, following the play, and realized the game was still on.
She raced to the field, tried to get through the gates but was told by a guard that the last inning was about over and a rush of people would be coming out momentarily. A huge roar proved him right, and her version of the climactic end of the Series turned out to be how the Pirates and wives planned to spend their vacations.
Football also carne into her work assignments, sending her to Michigan, Harvard, Princeton and elsewhere. The gridiron season was not her favorite, with time spent on covering and writing the games imposing on her party and dance schedules.
And unlike professional baseball, the football world banned women from the press boxes on the assumption that females were just reporters' girlfriends treated to good seats. So Katharine took notes in the chilly, often wet regular seats, and wrote her stories in college dorms, sorority houses or bathrooms of hotel suites jammed with fans.
East Liverpool provided settings and materials for a lot of her work in later years. In it, the pottery city became "Renwood," with its small town atmosphere and characters. She didn't produce any "Renwood" stories until about four years after she left the Ohio city.
"Even then, I didn't intend to," she wrote in her biography.
It just happened. All of a sudden, the dam burst, and I wrote eight or ten in a row, during the fifth and sixth years afterward. One of them was a full-length novel, the others were all short stories, some harsh, some not so harsh - one or two were positvely dulcet, believe it or not.
THE MOST SEVERE was a short story, "Good Wednesday," about Annie Baxter, a gossipy, mean-minded, hypocritical spinster and her acquaintances who thrived on rumors and distortions about others.
When it was published, some of the critics took me to task about it, complaining that it was too vituperative altogether, and saying things like "This smacks of personal bitterness." They were right in a way, of course, but in another way they weren't They should have read some of the stories I could have written and didn't write. Some of the real ones, which actually happened.
... except for the Klansmen and the Miss Annie Baxters and the soot on on the window sills, East Liverpool was as pleasant a place to live as any other. I had friends there, and I love them still. I even liked the town itself, at the start -1 never thought it was attractive to look at, but I thought it was hospitable, which mattered a great deal more.
I expected to live there indefinitely, and so of course it was a joy to be received so cordially as I was at first, and made to feel so welcome - "You never saw such friendly people," I wrote my family. "Compared with stand-offish New Englanders, they're simply wonderful." And so they were, and in many cases, they continued to be so.
(It seemed) to me that the Miss Annie Baxters - not to mention the Klansmen - were numerically a little overwhelming, in proportion to the population. Or perhaps it was simply that they overwhelmingly didn't approve of me.)
Anyhow, I had nothing but trouble with them, from start to finish, and nothing I did was right in their eyes, and very little of it was proper. I think I had made my first and worst mistake by not having been born in East Liverpool; and from that point on I went steadily downward. ...I must give you a partial list of the accusations...
talking with a funny accent; going away on trips too often; using too much makeup; wearing skirts too short; frivolity; domestic inefficency; penury; spending all my husband's money on clothes; scrimping by only serving tea and cakes at afternoon bridge parties; neglect of household while writing movie column; bottle-feeding my baby when it probably wasn't necessary; buying outside East Liverpool thus biting the hand that fed me; rapid driving; fast friends; SMOKING!
One of her last misadventures here involved allegations of shoplifting. She recalled that it began at a bridge party at a Youngstown country club when a report was discussed about two East Liverpool society matrons arrested at Pittsburgh for taking things at Kaufmann's.
Katharine laughingly called over to a friend, noting the two of them had been shopping in Pittsburgh the day of the crime. They joked about it, one recalling she had made off with an ermine coat.
SEVERAL WEEKS afterward, a friend told Katherine that she and her friend were thought to be the two jailed for the crime. The tale had spread, and merchants and the Police Chief were warned about the pair here. The Chief finally proposed to Stew that he get the photos of the two real shoplifters, and print them with the true story in the newspaper.
This was done,but failed to halt the rumor, so finally it was decided to file a defamation of character suit against the next person heard to relate the story before witnesses. Most witnesses were unwilling to testify in court against a friend, but then one lady made an incriminating statement before two or three of Katharine's friends.
The Brush lawyer confronted the woman, asking if she could prove her claim. She subsequently wrote a letter of retraction rather than face a hearing, and the slanderous tale began to ebb.
Katharine in her biography asked, "And now would anybody like to ask me why I worked so hard during my five centuries in East Liverpool?"
The first novel, "Glitter," was written in the first four months of 1925. The second, "Little Sins," started Jan. 26, 1926, took 13 months. That year - Katharine's last in East Liverpool - was marked by a fire in their house, the surprise move to New York, a distressing trip to California and hospital surgery for her and young Tom.
The fire occurred on a midwinter Sunday, breaking out in the walls of the home, causing extensive damage to parts of the structure but not her workroom. Nevertheless, she was diverted from her writing with carpenters underfoot and making decisions and supervising the redecorating.
She wasted four months on the first section of the novel, decided she didn't like it and started all over with a new plan. She completed the first two installments -- delivered to College Humor- and was on the third when the moving upheaval came in September.
On five days notice, the little family relocated to New York where Stew was given the job of assistant circulation manager of the Herald-Tribune for the additional business experience. He was granted three years leave of absence from Brush-Moore.
This meant selling half the furniture, trying to sell the house, packing, hiring moving vans, traveling by train to New York for a day of apartment hunting, then returning that night to complete packing in the remaining two days.
In the midst of settling in at New York, Katharine took on the assignment of writing sports again - for nine newspapers. She now devoted herself to the Jack Dempsey-Gene Tunney fight at Philadelphia, the World Series with the Yankees and Cardinals, a special interview with Tunney and traveling to Pittsburgh for a book fair.
She rented an office for her writing. Then, on the same day Stew sold the East Liverpool house, she sold some profitable movie rights. With this double windfall, they took a bigger, sunnier apartment which could accomodate her office, moved out of the rented office, discovered the former apartment tenant had committed suicide in the kitchen which neither the maid Gladys or she could tolerate, and moved into a third apartment.
COLLEGE HUMOR had published the third installment of 'Little Sins" by January 1927, and she had yet to write the last two. Regardless, Katharine decided to go to Hollywood -- where a movie was being made of "Glitter" - to talk about doing a film on "Little Sins." She thought she could finish "Little Sins" on the train trip west.
"Little Sins" had two heroines, one an ex-student, dance hall hostess, sales girl and beauty pageant winner, the other a gilded babe of proms married to a star college halfback - frivolous, extravagant, selfish, vain.
Katharine finished only one chapter on the train, and sealed herself in a hotel for five days to complete the last chapter. But with just four pages to go, she was felled by an attack of appendicitis, and in pain was taken to a hospital. She had tried to dictate the last pages to a hotel stenographer, but was unable.
College Humor editors, facing a deadline, telegraphed urgently for the end of the novel, offering to have one of their writers complete it. She refused, and after three days of futilely battling doctors and nurses for the chance to work, she asked for and was given paper and pencil "to write a little note to my worried husband." With this "note" she finished the pages which were wired to Chicago.
After a few weeks of convalescing, she headed home, stopping first for a visit with a school friend at San Francisco. Here she received a telephone call reporting that young Tommy had been stricken with a mastoid infection while visiting his grandparents in Salem and was due an emergency operation in the Salem hospital by a Cleveland surgeon. She left immediately on a four-day train trip to Ohio where Tommy had his surgery, but would not completely recover for a year.
Katharine felt the pressure to begin writing again, facing bills from the two operations, the trip west and the expenses of the "partnership" arrangement of the New York apartment. While still tending to Tommy at Salem, she launched what became her short story series, "night Club."
This centered on a ladies room maid at "Club Francais" about whom revolves interesting and dramatic stories of women in and out of her services. It was rejected by six magazine sub-editors for lack of main characters and central theme and as too episodical. This was before the literary hits of "Grand Hotel" and "The Women."
Finally it was published by Harper's, and became one of her best, often found in anthologies. One book reviewer said she wrote with "acid in her pen, seldom drops molasses."
Katharine was described a small woman with dark red hair and an acquiline nose which she was said to deplore. An observer noted that she loved clothes, jewelry, dancing, the theater, ocean voyages and football. She enjoyed interior decorating and collected antique jewelry.
Her daily routine was to spend five hours at writing, three hours for reading and study and the rest of time for family and recreation. She constantly revised her work, and took on the average a year to produce a novel, a month for a short story. An acquaintance termed her "a hard worker, a hard player, full of verve and persistence."
Stew had been made night circulation manager at the newspaper, and slept during the day. In order not to disturb him, she rented an outside office with Julia Harpman, another writer and wife of Westbrook Pegler. In 1927 she wrote 14 short stories and rewrote "Little Sins" for book form.
At the end of the year, she and Stew decided on a temporary separation as an experiment. Still friendly, they gave it a year's trial, and in August 1929 obtained a divorce. Both remarried, happily. Both continued on a friendly basis until his death in 1938.
STEW WENT to Canton where the Brush-Moore chain was based, and headed the Canton Repository circulation department, then directed the circulation operations of the six papers in the corporation. He married Florence Taylor Montgomery in 1933. Next year his health began to fail, and he moved to different sites around the country.
He died at 42 in Tucson, Ariz., Oct. 31, 1938 - coincidentally the same day the nation was shaken by Orson Welles' famed "Invasion from Mars" radio program.
She and Tommy spent the winter of 1928 in Tampa with the Peglers; he was covering spring training in Florida. With the intense sports atmosphere about her, she began a short story about a sports writer which eventually became the novel, "Young Man of Manhattan."
Sale of the movie rights to "Night Club" provided the money for a six-week tour of Europe. In 1929 she brought out a book of short stories - the original "Night Club" plus ten others, some new, including "Him and Her" which one an O. Henry Prize for short short stories. The Depression had begun, story themes focused on the poor and underprivileged, and Katharine's "capitalistic" themes of well-to-do social classes had become passe.
On the way home from Florida in 1928, she had started a short story titled "Sports Writer" which grew out of her experiences and acquaintances with the reporters covering the spring training season.
It expanded as she wrote it into a short serial, then a novelette. But needing money, Katharine put it aside to produce short stories she could sell. She almost tore up the novelette on the critical advice of an assistant in her agent's office.
However, after returning from Europe, she went back to "Sports Writer" because of the current popularity of newspaper plays such as "Front Page" and "Gentlemen of the Press." She finished it - now re-titled "Young Man of Manhattan" - in the summer of 1929, facing three deadlines - serialization in the Saturday Evening Post, a book for Farrar & Rinehart and a movie for Paramount.
Katharine concentrated intensely on the writing, practically a hermit in the E. 85th St. apartment they had rented after coming from East Liverpool. Tommy, now 7, was vacationing in Maine, the German housekeeper was away, so she pressed on, even working on the manuscript while she returned to Ohio in August for the divorce proceedings.
She managed to complete it ten days after the triple deadline Sept. 1. Paramount started filming in its East Coast studio on Long Island with Claudette Colbert and her husband, Norman Foster, in the leads, along with Charles Ruggles and a young girl never before in films, Ginger Rogers, as the teen-age ingenue, "Puff."
The story dealt with the marriage of Ann Vaughn and New York sports writer Toby McLean who encounter difficulties over her money and his drinking and eye for a flirtatious blonde, Puff Randolph. They separate, she going to Hollywood and he covering the spring baseball season. He plunges into a prolonged drinking bout, recovering only when he learns she has lost her sight from sampling a bottle of bad whisky he left behind.
The film, shown at the Ceramic Theater here in July 1930, proved a hit, and the book, published that year, was her first best seller.
IN 1928 AT PARIS she had met and become friendly with bachelor Hubert Charles Winans, called Bob. A Harvard graduate, he had served as an Army lieutenant France, then became the European representative of a Wall St. investment firm and returned to New York. He was a son of Methodist missionary teachers from Michigan, and spent his childhood in Chile and Spain
His father had been a U.S. consul in Spain, and when war broke out, was stationed in Germany and later Czechoslovakia.
Katharine and Bob were wed in October 1929, and went on a two-month honeymoon/business trip to Europe. They were to return to a nine-room apartment he had purchased in a new building and which was to be finished on their return.
The newlyweds spent the first two weeks motoring around Germany, Belgium and Switzerland, arriving in Paris the day before the catastrophic stock market crash. Learning of the financial disaster, the two sat in their hotel room, trying to figure out their losses and how to pay for the new apartment. They took the first boat to New York, and with their new home not ready, spent the next two months in a hotel
The pair moved in with the painters and carpenters still working. Lacking funds to buy sufficient furniture, they obtained two chairs to sit in the 30 by 40 foot living room. Bob was out of a job the first of the year when his firm closed its foreign bond operations.
But they were reassured when "Young Man" was a hit in the Post, and the book was selling well.
Next she tackled "Red Headed Woman" whose history duplicated "Young Man" - starting out as a short story, taking 15 months to write and challenged by book, Post and movie (MGM) deadlines.
It was "Renwood" again, with an Andrews girl from the railroad crossing stealing a husband and trying to crash society. They lived on "Harding Ave." Katharine didn't know where the plot was leading as she typed. "During the writing of the first half of the book I didn't know what the last half was going to be." Then, one night in a Broadway nightclub, she overheard a girl say, "Just look at all these diamond bracelets -- and I've only been in New York a year!"
Lillian Andrews, a strikingly attractive redhead with yearning to rise above her lower class station, obtains an office job in a coal company office where the owner son, William Legendre Jr., is a vice president.
She manages to become helpful and friendly with young William, and eventually seduces him, and a divorce ensues. Lillian weds Bill, but her hopes to replace the ex-wife in Renwood's social circles are dashed when the Country Club set refuses to accept this ambitious hussy with garish taste, poor grammar and immodest dress.
They ignore her, rebuff her invitations, embarrass and ridicule her in Lillian's one attempted party.
She is granted a trip to New York where she meets and is wooed by a myterious millionaire - a former smalltown theater owner who becomes rich through investments -- and decides the exciting life of Manhattan and the limitless joys of wealth are her real goals in life. She returns to dull and scornful Renwood to obtain a welcomed divorce from Bill who is newly in love with his former wife.
RENWOOD AGAIN contains much of the flavor of East Liverpool. We find the "Garden Apartments" (Monroe), a Market St., a business college upstairs in a downtown building, the country club with a golf course around a bend, trips to Youngstown and Pittsburgh, a "City Hospital," and certain characters similar to those herein the 1920s.
Lillian may have expressed Katherine's own disdain for the aloofness and criticisms from some people in town, when going home to break off her marriage and leave Renwood forever she declares she is "tired of being a social outcast, tired of being a laughing-stock."
The movie script had some help from Anita Loos and Scott Fitzgerald, and the cast featured Jean Harlow as "Lillian" with Chester Morris as "Bill Jr.," Lewis Stone as his father and Una Merkel as Lillian's hairdresser/friend "Sally. Charles Boyer made his acting debut in a brief scene as a chauffer.
The book came out in 1931 and was her second best seller. This new success and growing income opened new opportunties for the good life. Bob had formed his own company in January 1930 and was doing well.
On a ship returning from Bremen around this time, she wrote for Cosmopolitan magazine a story titled "Maid of Honor" which included a widowed father who owned a pottery and a church called St. Stephen's Episcopal.
In it a 19-year-old girl is being married, and asks her sister, 35, to be her maid of honor. Only the father and the spinster sister know that the bride is actually the sister's daughter, the result of a dalliance with a young man in town.
Katharine began to spend, inspired by a sense of grandeur as a celebrity. She lived in high style, with fine clothes, a driver, secretary, servants, a house in Connecticut, trips to Europe, ocean cruises. Caught up in this frenzy of wealth, she neglected her writing, turning out one story in 1933 - "Repeal Night" -- some parts of a novel and a feature story on the Jessie Costello murder trial.
During the period of 1932-35 her life was dominated by this routine of opulence. In this lap of luxury, she kept trying to produce a novel. On a ship returning from Europe in 1932 she had started "Don't Ever Leave Me" as a short story, intended to be the final "Renwood" venue, completing a book of the tales.
It took three years, and the town became "Northwood" in Pennsylvania, a steel town, and much larger - 85,000. The plot was about a woman and three men -- her husband, her lover and her teen-aged son - and centered on two Labor Day parties, one in a country club, the other in a cheap public dance hall.
I wanted it to be a kind of general panoramic fiction picture which would include glimpses of all or most of the people who had appeared in earlier stories. I started out with a country club dance asan occasion fof assembling the majority of them, but it wouldn't have taken them all in; and subconsciously I must have been rememb-ering my long-ago idea ... of presenting an entire community, the upper town and the lower town and all the varying social strata, in the course of celebration of a single holiday evening.
HOPES FOR A MOVIE from "Don't Ever Leave Me" were dashed when a producer noted the woman -- thirtyish - was too old; no Hollywood star would play her. And the Hayes office, which enforced morality standards on movies then, would not permit portrayal of the lover.
"Don't Ever Leave Me" did not fare as well as her two earlier books. Some critics viewed her characters as too shallow, failing to evoke much interest or sympathy.
The Washington Post reviewer said, "Miss Brush has written too well and not wisely enough. She has been too anxious to furnish her stage with appropriate period furniture; it becomes so rococo with words that it is impossible to distinguish the players or what they are saying. Why this should be so in view of her lilting "Young Man of Manhattan" and her extremely human "Red-Headed Woman" is hard to say. Miss Brush can write, make no mistake about that. But she should leave "our times" to the Mark Sullivans and Claude Bowerses."
The Renwood stores did appear in a book, but not with "Don't Ever Leave Me," replaced with various other tales which had nothing to do with Renwood. This came out as "Other Women," and sold fairly well
Former East Liverpool Tribune reporter O. O. Mclntyre (1904-05), then a nationally syndicated columnist, knew Katharine and Bob, and dined with them. One of his columns included a description of the large electric train layout little Tommy (and many adults) operated in a room of the huge apartment. She said Tommy received more letters about his train from that one mention than she did on her writings.
After the end of her "pampered pet" period and the cool reception of "Don't Ever Leave Me," Katharine encountered a serious writer's collapse - she just could not produce anything she judged worthwhile. In 1937-38 she struggled to type a line. Finally she determined to start all over again at writing, back to basics, and just sat down and typed out in a free style accounting of what came into her head, avoiding careful structure, proper grammar, a plan.
She also began writing a weekly syndicated Sunday column, "Out of My Mind." Her autobiography and description of how she wrote her books and stories, "This Is On Me," was finished in 1939 for the Ladies Home Journal.
She wrote "You Go Your Way" in 1941 - the year she and Winans obtained a Reno divorce. "The Boy From Maine" was produced in 1942, "Out of My Mind" in 1943, and "This Man and This Woman" in 1944.
Katharine Brush died June 10, 1952, at St. Luke's Hospital in New York City after a several months illness. She was 49.
Young Tom, who had attended Loomis School at Windsor, Conn., and earned Yale University bachelor ('48) and master degrees ('51), became a vice president of Brush-Moore
Young Tom, who had attended Loomis School at Windsor, Conn., and earned Yale University bachelor ('48) and master degrees ('51), became a vice president of Brush-Moore
He had served in Europe in World War II with a field artillery unit of the 42nd Division. In December 1960 at New York City he married Katherine Ford Richards of Virginia.
In 1967 the Brush-Moore chain, then consisting of eight dailies from Maryland to California, was purchased for $72 million by Thomson Newspapers, a Canada-based chain of small city newspapers.
Of Katharine Brush's best writing, novelist Margaret Culkin Banning commented that she was "one of those people . . . who proved that popular prose need not be sloppy or sentimental or untrue."