Nell Brinkley, who spent her early years in Edgewater, rose to fame as a cartoonish for Harper’s Magazine and Cosmopolitan. Nell was born in Denver in 1886 and moved to Edgewater with her family in 1893 and resided at 2425 Gray Street. Her father Robert Brinkley would become the mayor of Edgewater.
Nell began drawing at an early age and dropped out of high school to pursue her passion. She designed children’s book covers and worked as a cartoonist for The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News. In 1907 her artwork was noticed by news mogul William Randolph Hearst and she moved to New York City to work for Hearst at the age of twenty-two.
Author and Brinkley expert Trina Robbins describes what happened next, “Within a year, she had become a household name. Flo Ziegfeld dressed his dancers as “Brinkley Girls,” in the Ziegfeld Follies. Three popular songs were written about her. Women, aspiring to the masses of curly hair with which Nell adorned her creations, could buy Nell Brinkley Hair Curlers for ten cents a card. Young girls cut out and saved her drawings, copied them, colored them, and pasted them in scrapbooks.”
Robbins wrote the book “Nell Brinkley and the New Woman in the Early 20th Century” and will be in town in a few weeks. She is in town for the Denver Comic Con and local resident Debbi Spranza is hosting Robbins for a book signing and reception focused on the life and artwork of Nell Brinkley. Click here for more information on the reception.
You can read more about Nell Brinkley and see her work at the online site for the Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library here.