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The Biograph Girl

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  106 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
William J. Mann, the highly-acclaimed author of Wisecracker: The Life and Times of William Haines, now takes us on a wild roller-coaster ride through the 20th century, led by a sassy, chain-smoking 107-year-old actress named Florence Lawrence. Masterfully blending fact with fiction, Mann has reimagined this very real historical figure. From her vaudeville childhood as "Bab ...more
Paperback, 457 pages
Published June 1st 2001 by Kensington (first published 2000)
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Oct 28, 2014 Elaine rated it really liked it
The BIOGRAPH Girl is a fictionalized account of the life of "America's First Movie Star" Florence Lawrence aka "The BIOGRAPH Girl". In real life Ms. Lawrence, disillusioned and forgotten by Hollywood and the industry she helped to create, Florence committed suicide December 27, 1937 by ingesting ant paste and cough syrup. In this wonderful novel, the author rewrites history and the world finds out that the 107 year old lady residing in a Buffalo NY nursing home is none other than the actress onc ...more
Samantha Glasser
Jan 08, 2013 Samantha Glasser rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I picked up this book thinking it was a biography of Florence Lawrence, the first star to have her name heralded to the public. When I learned that it was fiction, I was slightly disappointed, but by then, I was already hooked on the writing style it entailed, so I read the novel.

The Biograph Girl is based on the life of Florence Lawrence, an actress who began with the flickers, worked with legends like D W Griffth and Mary Pickford, and was washed up after her break from films. She killed herse
Jul 26, 2011 Lori rated it it was amazing
Let me get right to the point. "The Biograph Girl" was a delight to read. I loved it from the first page to the last. Of course the subject matter was right up my alley - - - classic Hollywood (the 1910s and 1920s are the bulk of the flashback story here), glamorous ladies, fashions, fashions, fashions, the movies and a mystery. How can you possibly go wrong?

Author William J. Mann, who also penned the sharp nonfiction biography Wisecracker, simply does not. He nails the character of Florence La
Jan 14, 2013 John rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery
I love Hollywood history. I don’t love bad books. I wanted this book to be good. I read every last page (perhaps not every last word). When I was doing research for my (unpublished) mystery novel I picked up William J. Mann’s Wisecracker, his autobiography of William Haines, Silent Star, Decorator and sort of Hollywood’s first Out star. Not the best written book but well researched. The Biograph Girl is a work of fiction based on the life of Hollywood’s first star, Florence Lawrence (I don’t mak ...more
Did you ever wonder what would have happened if silent film star Florence Lawrence hadn't actually committed suicide in 1938, but instead lived into the 1990's?

Me neither. But William J. Mann apparently has, because he wrote this novel about that very topic. I found the flashback scenes somewhat interesting and occasionally evocative, but the scenes that took place in "the present" were frequently irritating. The characters were cliché, the dialogue was trite and the words that Mann put into th
Timothy Juhl
Apr 30, 2008 Timothy Juhl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-author
I'm a fan of Mann's work, in fact, his first book "The Men from the Boys", I felt as if he'd been following me around with notepad, documenting my life.

"The Biograph Girl" is loosely inspired by the real life of Florence Lawrence, the first 'movie star'. The subject matter is a favorite of mine, old Hollywood fables, and this one misses the mark.

The writing never really connects and the story seems to wander aimlessly as Mann attempts to create Lawrence's life after faking her death by drinking
May 16, 2011 Dawn rated it did not like it
I really tried to like this book - it has an interesting premise and the genre is right up my alley. However, it skips time periods way too much and the editing is horrible. I read one paragraph four times before I realized that it was a mistake. I realize that no one is perfect, but isn't this why authors have book editors? I usually don't mind skipping around in time periods but this was too much. It would go from present day to the early 1900's to the 1930's back to the late 1890's and so on. ...more
Lora King
Recently I've read a string of books about the early days of film. This book was wonderful. I could hardly put it down. It is based on a real person, Florence Lawrence, the first movie star. The author has taken a true story and made it come to life. A 106 yr old woman is discovered in a retirement home by a journalist and before you know it she turns out to be the Biograph Girl, the first Film super-star and the story of her life is then revealed between the journalist, his documentary making t ...more
Mar 05, 2013 Judy rated it liked it
I would like to give this book 3 1/2 stars. Once again, I read the reviews before I started the book (I have to stop doing that) so I was not expecting much, and, once again, I found more than I expected. The book was difficult to get into, but once I was there, it was a good read. I liked it. There is something creepy about creating fiction about a real person, but I enjoyed the fictional character. I also enjoyed the rivalry of the two brothers. I liked the way the chapters were set up, one in ...more
Aug 16, 2010 Asferdinand rated it liked it
I'm kind of torn with this book. On the one hand, I loved the character of Flo--who doesn't love a 107 year old, chain smoking, whisky drinking, crimson-nailed tough old broad? On the other, the dialogue is painfully clunky in some places (which is true for some of his other books as well), and his portrayal of the twins' mother who is so monstrously, hideously fatty fat FAT FAAAAAAATTTT DEATHFAT that she has no option but to never leave the house or see anyone outside of her sons was (un)amazin ...more
Lisa G
Apr 08, 2014 Lisa G rated it really liked it
I'd wanted to read this book for a few years, and I enjoyed it very much. It's a fictionalized telling of Florence Lawrence's story -- she was the first "movie star," even though fans did not know her name at the beginning. The concept of a star dropping out of public view and starting a whole new life is not new, but Mann does a good job with it. He intersperses real people and fictional characters and did some good research to write Florence's story.
Mar 20, 2010 Kipahni rated it really liked it
let me preface by saying i am a huge fan of sunset blvd. and this book is of the same feel. i think that is why i loved it. thev book even references the movie at one point. anyway it is a good read for those who enjoy films before talkies.
Anne Cupero
Jun 29, 2014 Anne Cupero rated it liked it
I liked this book because I like old Hollywood. The book isn't particularly well-written, but the concept and idea of someone being around who once was famous is always endearing. The end of the book though, is a tad ridiculous, and definitely lowered the rating.
Nov 28, 2007 Graceann rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of alternative fiction
What if Florence Lawrence hadn't actually committed suicide in 1938? What if she had survived well into her centenarian years and could tell us what happened in a long and interesting life? I love these sorts of stories, and this one was masterfully handled. Loved every page.
Sulaine Callaway
Dec 07, 2012 Sulaine Callaway rated it liked it
Overall, I liked this book. I liked the aspect of mixing the historical aspect with fiction and the unexpected ending. The book would have greatly benefited from better editing, smoothing out redundant information, and awkard passages.
Will Bellais
May 31, 2007 Will Bellais rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Movie types
The "true" history of America's first movie star. He blends the past with the present with great charm and skill. My goal is to read everybook William has ever written or will write.
Jun 15, 2010 S. rated it liked it
Fun fluff. I read it by the pool with a gin and tonic on the site where Tallulah Bankhead used to play tennis.
Lisa James
Jan 25, 2011 Lisa James rated it really liked it
Interesting book about old Hollywood in the era of silent film, & the mystery of the death of Frances. I won't do a spoiler, because it is too fascinating to cheat like that :)
Ken Poush
Ken Poush rated it really liked it
Sep 21, 2012
Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Nov 15, 2008
Tamara L Clever
Tamara L Clever rated it it was amazing
Jan 24, 2016
Brian rated it did not like it
Sep 13, 2014
Lori Merlino
Lori Merlino rated it liked it
Jun 22, 2016
Jan 06, 2014 Olga rated it liked it
It is a good , easy read.
I liked the way author went back and forth between past and present.
Barry rated it really liked it
Dec 23, 2011
Hillery rated it really liked it
Jan 24, 2009
Tonia Crum
Tonia Crum rated it liked it
Nov 26, 2013
Aaron rated it it was ok
Jun 20, 2008
Amanda rated it really liked it
Mar 27, 2010
Susan Bell
Nov 01, 2015 Susan Bell rated it really liked it
Really entertaining!
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Also writes children's books under the pseudonym Geoffrey Huntington.
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