September 8, 2007

Author of "Lavender and Old Lace" Lived and Died in Uptown

Who would guess that a world-famous author had offed herself in her flat at Foster and Kenmore a century ago? Myrtle Reed was as popular in her day as Stephen King or J.K. Rowling are now. Her most famous work, and one that was even made into a silent movie in 1921, was Lavender and Old Lace. The entire text of the book can be found at, and a terrific biography of the author, a preview of which is below, was published recently in Chicago Magazine:

Hell in Paradise Flat

Largely forgotten now, Myrtle Reed dazzled as a best-selling romance novelist and Chicago socialite 100 years ago. But in her personal life, a happy ending proved sadly elusive

by Dan Carlinsky

It started with an old book at a yard sale, a book I judged, frankly, by its cover: mauve with a gilt art nouveau floral design. The book was
Lavender and Old Lace by Myrtle Reed, copyright 1902. Turn-of-the-century romance, Edwardian chick lit. I figured I'd never read the thing, but it was attractive, and the price was a buck.

At home, I spread the covers, fanned the pages, and caught a folded brown newspaper clipping as it fell loose: Author a Suicide, Puts Blame Upon Model Husband; Myrtle Reed, Who Wrote "Lavender and Old Lace," Takes Poison Dose...

Complete article can be found at
Chicago Magazine.

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