Nell Brinkley and the New Woman in the Early 20th Century

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McFarland, May 23, 2001 - Social Science - 155 pages
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The art and commentary of Nell Brinkley (1886–1944) ran in American newspapers from 1907 through the 1930s. At the height of her popularity, “The Brinkley Girl” appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies and inspired poems and popular songs. Brinkley’s name even sold hair curlers, and her delicate pen work influenced later women cartoonists. As early as 1913, Brinkley was drawing working women, from farm and factory workers to those pursuing careers, using her art to encourage decent pay, pensions, and housing for thousands of young women working for the war effort. This work covers her life and her work, which might upon first glance show pretty girls but on a closer inspection reveals a post–Victorian feminism. It also looks at her rise to popularity, the innocent sexuality of her Brinkley girls, the sugary and sentimental Betty and Billy series, and the beauty of her line drawings.

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Before Nell
The Teens
The Great War
The Twenties
The Thirties

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Page 13 - A bright fire burnt in the grate, and some palest orchid-mauve silk curtains were drawn in the lady's room when Paul entered from the terrace. And loveliest sight of all, in front of the fire, stretched at full length, was his tiger — and on him — also at full length — reclined the lady, garbed in some strange clinging garment of heavy purple crepe, its hem embroidered with gold, one white arm resting on the beast's head, her back supported by a pile of the velvet cushions, and a heap of rarely...
Page 7 - She's only a bird in a gilded cage, A beautiful sight to see, You may think she's happy and free from care, She's not, though she seems to be, 'Tis sad when you think of her wasted life, For youth cannot mate with age, And her beauty was sold, For an old man's gold, She's a bird in a gilded cage.

About the author (2001)

Writer and women’s comics historian Trina Robbins lives in San Francisco, California.

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