A screenwriting friend recently drew my attention to an article she found on-line. In contrast to women’s experiences in modern-day Hollywood, did you know that once upon a time, women were the most famous and well-paid screenwriters?
As I scrolled through the list of names, the picture of Elinor Glyn caught my attention. I’d never heard of her until a few years ago when I visited the stately home of Montacute in Southern England where she lived with her lover Lord Curzon – but what a woman! Once again I have to ask, Why hasn’t someone made a film about her life?
Elinor Glyn was born Elinor Sutherland to a Scottish father and Canadian mother on the Channel Island of Jersey in 1864. Following the death of her father, her mother took Elinor and her sister Lucy (who went on to become the famous dress designer Lucille) back to Guelph, Ontario. They remained there until Elinor was eight before returning to Jersey on her mother’s remarriage.
Elinor married Clayton Louis Glyn, a barrister, in 1892. They had two daughters, but due to his recklessness with money, Elinor was forced to begin writing to keep the family financially afloat. Elinor essentially created the modern romance novel, her most famous work being the ‘scandalous’ (for its time) Three Weeks.
It was an unhappy marriage and Elinor had several affairs which scandalized Edwardian Britain. A famous poem of the time was: Would you like to sin With Elinor Glyn On a tiger skin? Or would you prefer To err with her On some other fur?
Following the death of her husband in 1915 and the end of her relationship with Curzon, Elinor moved to Hollywood in 1920 where she became a very successful screenwriter – but more about that on Friday!