Raised in frugality by her widowed mother the Glyn family's poverty was relieved only by infrequent gifts from wealthy relatives. As a result of her upbringing, Elinor Glyn vowed to join the world represented by her rich relatives. Her mother's remarriage to a well-to-do Scotsman was to have been the family's salvation from poverty, but her stepfather was miserly. The stepfather's health made it necessary for the family to move to Jersey, where Glyn joined in the social life of the island. But life on the island was not exciting enough, and Glyn convinced a vacationing Frenchwoman to take her back with her to Paris in 1880. When her sister, Lucy, went to live on an English estate, Glyn went to visit and ingratiate herself with the lesser aristocracy.
Years of planning were rewarded in 1892 when Glyn married into the life she craved—that of comfort and ease. But her husband was a disappointment, so Glyn continued to collect clothes, many designed by her sister, and acquire an elegant polish.
In 1898 she began writing a fashion column in the magazine Scottish Life. The magazine was short-lived, but Glyn continued to write. While recovering from rheumatic fever Glyn wrote the manuscript that became the serialized Letters of Elizabeth, concerning a married woman's illicit affair. The next year, the “letters” were published into a book that became a moderate success, probably because many late-Victorian critics labeled it as “shocking.” Three Weeks (1907) brought her fame, and the book's “unbridled lust” continued to make it a hit twenty-five years after it was first published.
During World War I, she worked as a war correspondent, first for the newspaper News of the World, then for the Hearst newspapers.
After the war she wrote The Philosophy of Love (1920), one of the first books to outline a campaign to get and keep a man.
In the fall of 1920 studio head Jesse Lasky offered her $10,000 per picture, so she traveled to the United States to begin a career in screenwriting. Her first production was The Great Moment (1920) starring Gloria Swanson. A self-styled authority on romance, she adapted her novels to the screen. The resulting films were extremely successful, but soon her career hit a slump.
However, her career and reputation were revived with the publication of her novel It. She adapted the novel for the screen and the film, starring Clara Bow, became the sensation of 1926. She began writing articles for magazines advising readers on “all things amorous,” but especially on how to use “It”—her euphemism for sex appeal.
Unquestioningly a part of the 1920s wild-spirited jazz age, Madame Glyn (as she styled herself) became obsolete as the decade drew to a close. She returned to England in 1929, leaving behind a large unpaid tax bill in the United States. After a short-lived and unsuccessful attempt at film production, Glyn returned to novel writing with the publication of Love's Hour (1932). She wrote her autobiography, Romantic Adventure, in 1936.
|1921||The Great Moment|
|1922||Beyond the Rocks; The World's a Stage|
|1924||Three Weeks; How to Educate a Wife; His Hour|
|1925||Man and Maid; The Only Thing; Soul Mates|
|1928||Mad Hour; Red Hair; Three Weekends|
|1929||The Man and the Moment|
|1930||Such Men Are Dangerous; Knowing Men|
|1930||Knowing Men; The Price of Things|
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