Leading players in student production of The Good Natured Man, 1907. Left to right: Spencer Thomas, Olna Hudler, Melville Alexander, and Fannie Hurst.
After receiving her B.A. from Washington University in 1909, Fannie Hurst went to New York to do graduate work at Columbia University. She began writing short stories for popular magazines in 1914, and went on to produce many best-selling novels, the best known of which are Back Street (1931), and Imitation of Life (1933). Many of her novels were made into films, and she herself wrote 12 filmscripts, including "Humoresque" and "Symphony of Six Million." She was also a frequent contributor to magazines and regularly appeared on radio and television programs.
Hurst was an active philanthropist and leader in civic affairs. Upon her death a large part of her death a large part of her estate came in a bequest to Washington University, a portion of which was used to create the Hurst Professorship in the Department of English for visiting writers.