Elinor Glyn (October 17, 1864 - September 23, 1943), born Elinor Sutherland on the English Channel island of Jersey. Following the death of her father, her mother returned to the parental home in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Here Elinor was schooled by her grandmother (a minor French aristocrat) in the ways of upper-class society. This training not only gave her an entrée into aristocratic circles on her return to Europe, but it led her to be considered an authority on style and breeding when she worked in Hollywood in the 1920s.
She was the celebrated author of such early 20th century bestsellers as It, Three Weeks, Beyond the Rocks, and other novels which were then considered quite racy, as tame as they might seem now.
Glyn was also the younger sister of Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon, famous as the fashion designer "Lucile".
Although her writing would not be considered scandalous by modern standards, she pioneered mass-market women's erotic fiction. She coined the use of It as a euphemism for sexuality, or sex appeal.
She had a long lasting affair with George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston.
On the strength of the popularity and notoriety of her books, Glyn moved to Hollywood where she promoted the concept of the vamp, helping to make a star of actress Clara Bow (the It girl). She is credited with the re-styling of Gloria Swanson from giggly starlet to elegant star.
A scriptwriter for the silent movie industry, she also had a brief career as one of the earliest female directors.
References in popular culture
A scene in Glyn's most sensational work, Three Weeks, inspired the doggerel:
- Would you like to sin
- With Elinor Glyn
- On a tiger skin?
- Or would you prefer
- To err with her
- On some other fur?
Glyn also makes an appearance in a 1927 Lorenz Hart song, "My Heart Stood Still" from One dam thing after another:
- I read my Plato
- Love, I thought a sin
- But since your kiss
- I'm reading missus Glyn!
In Meredith Willson's 1957 musical The Music Man, Marian the Librarian asks the prudish Mrs. Shinn if she would rather have her daughter reading Glyn's work than the classic Persian poetry of Omar Khayyam.
In the 2001 movie The Cat's Meow, Elinor Glyn, played by Joanna Lumley, is one of the guests aboard William Randolph Hearst's yacht on the fateful weekend Thomas Ince died. Lumley, as Glyn, provides voice-over narrative at the beginning and the end of the film.
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