|New York and the (Aspirations, Dreams) Lives of Women: Faith Baldwin|
|Faith Baldwin and friend|
What Baldwin knew was Brooklyn. This was her hometown, her home, and her center.
|The Baldwins' home in Brooklyn Heights (1900 Census) 266 Hicks Street.|
Although born in New Rochelle, New York, Baldwin was just three years old when her family first moved to Brooklyn. Their first home was at 266 Hicks Street, where she lived with her younger sister, Esther, her mother, Edith (a native New Yorker), and her father, Stephen C. Baldwin, a successful New York lawyer.
Later, the family moved (according to a 1905 New York census) to 105 Pierrepont Street, and finally, they settled at 73 Remsen Street. They were part of Brooklyn society.
|The Baldwins Were Regularly Listed in this Blue-Blooded Blue Book|
|Baldwin Home: 97 Remsen St. Brooklyn (photo from 2014)|
|Prodigy's Poem: Baldwin's poem appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on April 21, 1907|
|Over There: Faith Baldwin's Stay in Germany During WWI Elicits Press Coverage|
One year after her wedding, Baldwin published her first novel, Mavis of Green Hill. While she continued to use her maiden name professionally, her first novel also identified her as "Mrs. Hugh Hamlin Cuthrell." This was something she soon stopped doing, sticking solely to the name Faith Baldwin from there on out.
Her first book was dedicated to her agent, Jean Wick, in "gratitude and affection." Wick, a literary agent with an office at 59 Washington Square, was later celebrated for her early cultivation of Baldwin, and for her having taken the "poor struggling scribe under her wing." (Rian James, "Reverting to Type," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 27, 1929.)
From then on, Baldwin wrote and published, setting her novels (mostly) in New York, from Manhattan to Brooklyn (and occasionally beyond).
|Baldwin's paperbacks frequently made use of New York maps to identify the varied locations of the plots.|
|Baldwin's Neighborhood near 8219 13th Ave, Brooklyn|
|Faith's Former Home: 156 97th St.: the Bay Ridge Baldwins (photo Google Maps)|
By 1936, Baldwin earned more than $315,000. Once she made it "big," the press seemed to enjoy following the same story line:
A woman who has a family and a career!
How does she do it?!
|Baldwin: Wife, Mother, Author!|
|False Dilemma: In Baldwin's Life There Was No Need to Sacrifice.|
The 1932 film "Skyscraper Souls," based on Baldwin's novel, Skyscraper, typified this attitude. Both novel and film were cautionary tales for women eager to "make it" in the big city.
|Beware! Modern Women Please Take Note of the City's Dangers!|
|Work and Love: Two Themes under Baldwin's Scrutiny|
|Two Arts at Once! Baldwin in the Quad City Times, April 20, 1930|
Ultimately, Baldwin was not only a self made woman, but a woman who lived largely on her own. She lived most of her life with her children and an occasional friend who boarded with her in her modest homes. (Later in her life, she moved to Connecticut.)
"I thought it was the only way to be adventurous and independent," Baldwin later said of her writing. (Obituary, Poughkeepsie Journal, March 20, 1978.)
In offering her "recipe for fellow women," Baldwin encouraged other women to write.
|And a Dash of Confidence! Baldwin's Recipe|
The New York Times would later characterize Baldwin as "one of the most successful writers of light fiction on the American scene," (NYT, March 19, 1979). Whether her work was "light" or not can be disputed. But her influence was clear.
And Brooklyn, her home and the setting for many of her novels, remained close to her heart. In 1935, the popular columnist O.O. McIntryre singled out Baldwin and her beloved Brooklyn as worthy of noting:
|O.O. McIntryre's "New York Day by Day," May 28, 1935.|
* Mrs Dow was Mary Elizabeth Dunning Dow, formerly of the exclusive Porter School in Farmington, CT.