Although Gwen Bristow was neither born in Alabama
nor died there, she had very close Alabama connections. While her father was
serving as minister of a Baptist church in Selma, she enrolled at Judson
College. She graduated in 1924 with a double major in English and
After beginning her writing career by reporting
junior high functions for her hometown newspaper, she continued writing for
school papers through high school. She turned to play writing during her senior
year and continued in that medium while a student at Judson, where several of
her plays were presented.
Following graduation from Judson, she spent a
year studying at the Pulitzer School of Journalism at Columbia University in
New York City. She earned money typing theses, writing biographies for trade
journals, and working as a secretary.
From Columbia, she went to work on the New
Orleans Times-Picayune as a reporter. Her future husband, Bruce Manning
from New York, was working for a rival newspaper, the Item. They were
married a year later. A facetious scheme to get rid of a neighbor whose raucous
radio disturbed them day and night led to the publication of their first book,
The Invisible Host. Owen Davis made the tale of murder into a play and
the movie The Ninth Guest was based on the same story.
The couple continued to write and to work
intermittently for the newspaper until they moved to Connecticut, where Mr.
Manning wrote stories for screen and radio scripts and Miss Bristow worked on
her fourth novel - which failed to sell.
When Mr. Manning was offered a job in Hollywood,
the couple moved there. After serving a term as a bored California homemaker,
Miss Bristow began a novel about Louisiana, the first of a trilogy that carried
two families from pre-Revolutionary days to World War I: Deep Summer,
Handsome Road, and This Side of Glory. All three novels, published in the
1930's, became bestsellers. Other successes followed - Tomorrow Is Forever,
Celia Garth, and Jubilee Trail Many of her stories were made into
movies, and her novels were translated into a dozen different languages.
Several of her books are in print today.
Having established herself as a versatile and
prolific write, Miss Bristow earned a place in such biographical and critical
works as Current Biography, Contemporary Authors, Atlantic Monthly, Times
Literary Supplement, New York Times Book Review, Who's Who in America, and
Who's Who of American Women.