Glyn, Elinor (writer)

Reference: MS 4059Date: 1901-1964Extent: 46 boxes
Elinor Glyn (1864-1943) was chiefly known for popular romantic fiction and for Hollywood film scripts. She specialised in romantic, often risqué, fiction and popularised the concept of the ‘It-girl’. She had a great influence on early twentieth century popular culture and the careers of several early Hollywood stars.

She was born in 1864 in Jersey. Her father died when she was two months old and her mother took her to Canada with her sister. She was taught by her grandmother who instructed her in the ways of upper-class society which led to her becoming an authority of style and breeding, something she utilised in her writing later in life.

Her mother remarried in 1871 and moved them back to Jersey. Elinor married Clayton Louis Glyn in 1892 at the age of 28. They had two daughters, but the marriage was not compatible. She had affairs with British aristocrats and used the experiences in her early work. Her writing career began in 1900. When her husband fell into debt in 1908, Elinor wrote to keep up the standard of living. He died in 1915.

In 1919, she signed a contract with William Randolph Hearst’s International Magazine Company. She was brought over to the USA by Famous Players-Lasky Production Company to write screenplays. She also wrote for Cosmopolitan Magazine. The screenplay of her novel “It” helped her gain popularity as a screenwriter. In 1920, she moved to work in Hollywood where she became one of the most famous women screenwriters of the 1920s working with MGM and Paramount. She also had a brief career as one of the earliest female directors.

She returned to England in 1929, partly because of tax demands. She set up her own production company – Elinor Glyn Ltd. – but after a couple of films it failed, and she returned to her first passion of writing novels.

She died after a brief illness in 1943.

The collection includes typescripts of many of her books, articles and scripts, notes on film making, correspondence, publishers’ agreements and agreements with film associates. Some of the correspondence relates to her two companies, Elinor Glyn Ltd and Talkicolor Company Ltd.

Source for biographical information:

  • Hardwick, Joan (1994) Addicted to Romance: The Life And Adventures of Elinor Glyn. London: Andre Deutsche.

More information

  • A description is available on our online database.
  • A handlist for the whole collection can be found here.
  • See also a list of other writers’ and artists’ archives here.