Morley, Christopher: Kitty Foyle
(researched by Kaitlyn Bryan)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

Christopher Morley. Kitty Foyle. Philadelphia, PA: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1939.

Copyright: Christopher Morley, 1939.

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?

First edition published in trade cloth binding.

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

170 leaves, pp. [1-8] 9-17 [18] 19-26 [27] 28-34 [35] 36-41 [42] 43-50 [51] 52-60 [61] 62-70 [71] 72-81 [82] 83-91 [92] 93-108 [109] 110-118 [119] 120-126 [127] 128-132 [133] 134-147 [148] 149-158 [159] 160-165 [166] 167-171 [172] 173-183 [184] 185-191 [192] 193-208 [209] 210-220 [221] 222-230 [231] 232-241 [242] 243-256 [257] 258-265 [266] 267-274 [275] 276-282 [283] 284-297 [298] 299-315 [316] 317-326 [327] 328-339 [340]

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?

The first edition is neither edited nor introduced. The back outside dust cover includes an advertisement for other books by Christopher Morley that are published by J.B. Lippincott Company.

6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?

No illustrations.

7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available

8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)

The physical presentation of the text is attractive and readable. The typography is roman and the text is clearly printed, without smudges. 20 lines of text measures 226 millimeters. Capital letters are 3 millimeters tall, lower case letters are 2 millimeters tall, and spaces between lines are 3 millimeters. The margins are considerably large, and thus the pages are not overcrowded. The bottom margin is the largest, measuring 43 millimeters. The dust jacket is a bit torn on the spine and corners, but overall is in good condition. There is artwork on the dust jack depicting a green knit-textured background that fades into a lighter green toward the spine. The title looks to be a photograph of the words “Kitty Foyle” spelled out in white ribbon.

9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available

10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)

The first edition uses thick, white, wove paper. The vertical edges of the papers are uneven, as if once perforated and torn apart. The very first and very last pages are of a different type of paper than the rest of the pages. It is yellow and all the sides of each page are smooth. The pages are in good quality and the book has been well preserved.

11 Description of binding(s)

Front and back covers are greenish cloth. Front cover is labeled with “KF” in white cloth. Spine is green cloth, labeled with author’s name on the top, title in middle, and publisher’s name at the bottom, all in white cloth. Text is vertical.

12 Transcription of title page

Recto: Christopher Morley | Kitty Foyle | J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia New York Toronto

Verso: Copyright, 1939, By Christopher Morley, First Edition, Printed in the United States of America

13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings

The manuscripts of Christopher Morley can be found at Stony Brook University, Syracuse University, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of Virginia.

15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

A bookplate is pasted on the inside of the front cover of the book. It is rectangular in shape and depicts a man and a woman sitting in rocking chairs on either side of a small table. The image marks the book as a gift to the Special Collections Library by the family of Mr. Robert Coleman Taylor and Mrs. Lillian Gary Taylor as part of the Taylor Collection of American Best-Sellers.

The call number of this book in the Special Collections Library is Taylor 1939 .M67 K5.

The originals of all digital images included are housed in: Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Virginia 22904-4110. No further copies can be made.

Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History

1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A


2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available

3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available

4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?

As of February 20, 2018, it is unclear exactly how many printings or impressions J.B. Lippincott issued of the first edition. According to an article published in Publisher’s Weekly, 100,000 copies of the book’s first edition had been printed and sold by February 1940. Additional Publisher’s Weekly advertisements from December 23, 1939 and April 6, 1940 reveal that Kitty Foyle was about to enter its ninth and 15th printings, respectively.

The book remained on Publishers’ Weekly’s bestseller lists for at least 9 months (November 1939 - July 1940), as well as appeared on Hackett’s Bestseller list in 1939 and 1940. Because of its popularity during 1939 and the early 1940s, it is likely that additional printings or impressions exist. The exact number is unknown.

5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

As of February 20, 2018, there are a number of editions published by companies other than J.B. Lippincott. They include Editions for the Armed Services (1945), The Continental Book Company in Stockholm, London (1945) and Penguin Books (1945).

6 Last date in print?

As of February 20, 2018, Kitty Foyle is not in print. Books in Print indicated that Kitty Foyle was still in print as of 1993. New copies of the book can be found on Amazon from individual sellers.

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)

According to Publishers’ Weekly, J.B. Lippincott reported that it sold 100,00 copies by February 17, 1940 and continued issuing additional subsequent printings. As of February 20, 2018, more conclusive or exact accounts of the total copies sold are unknown.

Searches in Bowker’s Annual, Hackett’s 80 Years of Best Sellers, Mott’s Golden Multitudes, and Tebbel’s A History of American Publishing and were inconclusive.

8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)

An advertisement in Publishers’ Weekly states that on February 17, 1940, Kitty Foyle had sold 100,000 copies. As of February 20, 2018, no further sales figures by year have been found.

Searches in Bowker’s Annual, Hackett’s 80 Years of Best Sellers, Mott’s Golden Multitudes, and Tebbel’s A History of American Publishing and were inconclusive.

9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)

Advertisements for Kitty Foyle were found in the 1939 and 1940 volumes of Publishers’ Weekly.

An advertisement published within the first few weeks of book’s publication is black-and-white and depicts a stack of papers with writing on them. The writing says: “MEMO No. 1 To America’s Booksellers: Advance Sale 25,754 copies, First Week of Publication 4,679 copies – and now selling at the rate of over 1,500 copies a day!” Above the image of papers the advertisement reads: “The Natural History of a ‘Natural.’” Below the image is written: “KITTY FOYLE: The Natural History of A Woman, By Christopher Morley.” At the very bottom of the page is a blurb for the publishers: “250 Park Ave. New York, J.B. Lippincott Company Washington Square, Philadelphia, 215 Victoria St. Toronto.”

A similar black-and-white advertisement was published during the week of November 25, 1939. It depicts a similar stack of papers, but enumerates different statistics. It reads: “MEMO No. 2 To America’s Booksellers: First Week of Publication 4,679 copies, Second Week of Publication 7,063 copies – and now selling at the rate of over 2,000 copies a day!” The writing above and below the image of papers is the same as in the previously transcribed advertisement.

Another black-and-white advertisement for J.B. Lippincott is published during the week of December 23, 1939 featuring Kitty Foyle (pictured in Question 10). This advertisement is especially important because it is published just before the portion of J.B. Lippincott’s advertising campaign designed to carry Kitty Foyle’s popularity into the New Year. It contains an image of the book’s cover, followed by the following print: “(UNFINISHED BUSINESS) As the year ends, KITTY FOYLE has reached the No. 1 fiction best-seller position in practically every large city in the United States – and sales are still climbing! We have therefore appropriated another $5,000 to help you sell more copies of KITTY FOYLE in January and February. SPECIAL NOTE: Check your stock of KITTY FOYLE today, and get your orders in early in order to reap the full profits of the new nation-wide KITTY FOYLE campaign that begins this week. Ninth large printing is about to go to the press.”

An additional advertisement for Kitty Foyle appears in Publishers’ Weekly’s first publication in January 1940. It contains a black-and-white image of the book’s cover surrounded by decorative stripes and text. The top of the page says “The Publishers’ Weekly: The American Book Trade Journal.” In the bottom right corner is a textbook proclaiming, “It is going to be the most talked about book of the year.” A banner across the bottom of the page says, “To be Published October 26th at $2.50, J.B. Lippincott Company.”

10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion

Kitty Foyle’s success as a bestseller has been largely attributed to J.B. Lippincott’s advertising campaign. J.B. Lippincott’s advertising manager, Frank Frazier, spearheaded the campaign, with assistance from advertising agent James E. Schwenk and author Christopher Morley. J.B. Lippincott allocated a high initial budget for the campaign, starting with $10,000 to plan and execute the initial two months of advertising, then allocating an additional $5,000 to push the campaign through the New Year.

The campaign itself focused on engaging salespeople and appealing to a female audience. Frazier and J. B. Lippincott systematically communicated the advertising plan to all salespeople so that booksellers across the country could execute the same marketing techniques. J.B. Lippincott identified a female audience as its principal target, as they believed women would be most interested in reading a story about an independent, progressive, female protagonist. To do this, they attempted to override the male author’s voice with the persona of Kitty Foyle’s and strategically avoided mentioning the (male) author’s name in advertisements.

In fall 1939, Publishers’ Weekly awarded the advertising campaign with the First Honorable Mention for Best Book.

12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A

On December 27, 1940, Kitty Foyle was released as a film, starring Ginger Rogers as Kitty Foyle, Dennis Morgan as Wyn Strafford and James Craig as Mark Eisen. The film was directed by Sam Wood and produced by Harry E. Edington and David Hempstead. Ginger Rogers won the Academy award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Kitty Foyle.

In January 1958, Henry Jaffe Enterprises, Inc. and National Broadcasting Company produced Kitty Foyle produced as a black and white television series.

Kitty Foyle has also made into a short-lived radio series and various screenplays. 

13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

This book was translated into many different languages and reprinted by many different publishing companies.

Morley, Christopher. Kitty. Translated by Klaus Lambrecht, Konstanz: Diana, 1961. [Translated to German.]

Morley, Christopher. Kitty. Zürich: Humanitas-Verl., 1941. [Translated to German.]

Morley, Christopher. Ktity Foyle. Mexico City: Ediciones Atlantida, 1941. [Translated to Spanish.]

Morley, Christopher.  Kitty Foyle. Translated by Frans G. Bengtsson, Stockhold: Medén, 1940. [Translated to Sewdish.]

Morley, Christopher. Kitty Foyle. Translated by Giorgio Monicelli, A. Mondadori, 1946. [Translated to Italian.]

Morley, Christopher.  Kitty Foyle. Translated by Hans Heiberg, Oslo, 1941. [Translated to Norwegian.]

Morley, Christopher. Kitty Foyle. Translated by JNC van Dietsch, Leiden: Sijthoff, 1940. [Translated to Dutch.]

Morley, Christopher.  Kitty Foyle. Santiago de Chile: Ediciones Ercilla, 1941. [Translated to Spanish.]

Morley, Christopher.  Kitty Foyle. Stockhold: Medén, 1962. [Translated to Danish.]

Christopher Morley. Sle─Źna Kitty. Translated by Vojtêch Kubašta and Hedvika Kellerová, Praha: Aventium, 1947. [Translated to Czech.]

14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A


15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A


Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

Best-selling author Christopher Morley was born on May 5, 1890 in Haverford, Pennsylvania. He was the eldest of three American-born children to two Quaker English immigrants, Frank Morley Sr. and Lilian Bird. The couple met in England while Frank was studying at Bath College and Lilian was traveling in Europe. In 1887, Frank accepted a position as a Mathematics professor at Haverford College, and the couple moved to Haverford, Pennsylvania. Despite his parents’ Quaker background, Christopher Morley was baptized in the Episcopal Church. He had two younger brothers, Felix (born in 1894) and Frank (born in 1899). In 1900, when Christopher Morley was ten years old, Frank Sr. accepted a position teaching Mathematics at Johns Hopkins University, prompting the family to relocate to Baltimore, Maryland. Christopher Morley’s passion for writing developed as a student at the Jefferson School in Baltimore; he began his first novel, which was never completed, in 1992. The manuscripts can still be found today in the Morley Alcove of Haverford Library.

Christopher Morley received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Haverford College in 1910. He graduated as one of four Phi Beta Kappas in his class and delivered the Valedictorian speech at his graduation ceremony. After graduating, he moved to England to study Modern History as a Rhodes Scholar at New College, Oxford. While studying at New College, he met Helen Booth Fairfield, whom he married on June 3, 1914. Together they had four children: Christopher, Louise, Helen, and Blythe. Upon graduation from New College in 1913, he decided to enter the publishing business, and accepted an editorial job in New York for Doubleday, Page & Company. Throughout the next 30 years, he assumed a variety of jobs in the publishing industry, working as an editor for the Ladies’ Home Journal (1917-1918), a columnist for the Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger in Pennsylvania (1918-1920), a columnist for the New York Evening Post (1920-1924), a contributing editor for the Saturday Review of Literature (1924-1941), a judge and Editorial Board member for the Book of the Month Club (1926-1954), and an editor of two editions of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations (1937, 1948). He founded the Baker Street Irregulars (1934) and was a founder and editor of the Saturday Review of Literature (1924-1941).

Over the course of his life, Christopher Morley published over 50 novels, essays, poems, and plays. His first publication, a collection of poems titled The Eighth Sin, was published by Simpkin, Marshall & Company on November 20, 1912, when he was 22 years old. His most famous novels include Parnassus on Wheels (1917), its sequel The Haunted Bookshop (1919), Where the Blue Begins (1922), Thunder on the Left (1925), all published by his former employer, Doubleday, Page & Co., and best-seller Kitty Foyle (1939, J.B. Lippincott & Co.). He also wrote an autobiography titled John Mistletoe (1931, Doubleday, Doran & Co.) and published his final novel, The Man Who Made Friends With Himself, with Doubleday & Company, Inc. in 1949. Christopher Morley wrote very popular essay collections, the most notable being Shandygaff (1918) and Tales from a Rolling Desk (1921), both published by Doubleday, Page & Co. Especially during his early years, he harbored a special interest in poetry writing; in addition to The Eighth Sin, his most famous poetry publication was a book of free verse poetry titled Old Mandarin (1947), published by Harcourt, Brace & Co. Finally, his interest in drama led him to write many short plays, in addition to founding the Hoboken Theatrical Company with his colleague Cleon Throckmorton in 1928, where they produced revival theatrical productions. No information from this original research project could be found on Christopher Morley’s agents or editors.

Christopher Morley’s health deteriorated in the final years of his life. He had a stroke in April of 1951 that left him paralyzed, followed by two subsequent strokes over the next six years. He passed away on March 28, 1957 at age 66 in Roslyn Heights, New York. He is buried in Roslyn Cemetery and was survived by his wife, four children, and two brothers.

Sources Consulted:

Browning, David Clayton, and John William Cousin. Everyman's Dictionary of Literary Biography, English & American. Rev. ed. (with suppl.), Dent, 1969.

Oakley, Helen McKelvey. Three Hours for Lunch: The Life and Times of Christopher Morley; A Biography. Watermill Publishers, 1976.

Perkins, George B., et al. "Morley, Christopher (Darlington) (1890-1957)." Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia of American Literature, vol. 1, HarperCollins, 1991, p. 731. Literature Resource Center. Accessed 11 Mar. 2018.

Wallach, Mark I. "Christopher (Darlington) Morley." American Novelists, 1910-1945, edited by James J. Martine, Gale, 1981. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 9. Literature Resource Center. Accessed 11 Mar. 2018.Christopher Morley, 66, Dies; Wrote 'Kitty Foyle'." Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File), Mar 29, 1957, pp. 2, ProQuest.

"Christopher (Darlington) Morley." Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2004. Literature Resource Center. Accessed 11 Mar. 2018.

"Morley, Christopher (Darlington)." Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature, Merriam-Webster, 1995. Literature Resource Center. Accessed 11 Mar. 2018.

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

Many reviews of Kitty Foyle praised Christopher Morley for his writing style, which was believed to be unique and innovative for the time of publication. While most popular for Kitty Foyle, Morley was thought to be “one of the most versatile authors in his era” (Facts on File: Bibliography of American Fiction, 1919-1988), able to “do what authors of novel do not invariably succeed in doing: he has given to ordinary things in a novel exactly the mild interest and excitement they have in life” (Stephens). The word “whimsical” seems to have been used often when describing Christopher Morley’s narrative style in Kitty Foyle: One reviewer called Morley’s narration in Kitty Foyle “humorously indirect, slangily allusive, whimsically parenthetical, [and] delicately unspoken” (Charques), while another called Morley the “master of whimsy and...master of the tricky business of telling a good story well” (Butcher). Further than producing an appealingly unique writing style, however, the fact that Morley’s narrative technique embodied the voice of a young, lower-class female was of especially exciting consequence for reviewers.


Many critics commented on Morley’s ability as a male author to inhabit the mind of a female, as well as his aptitude for portraying his protagonist’s thoughts accurately and honestly. A female reviewer from Cleveland Open Shelf said of Morley’s narrative technique: “It is rather unnerving to a woman reviewer to discover that men do know what women talk about in moments of confidence among friends of their own sex. As a woman, we take the liberty of congratulating Mr. Morley on his expert knowledge of our thoughts and emotions” (Cleveland Open Shelf, Book Review Digest). Another reviewer commented, “it will be a surprise to many that a man should be able to see into the mind and heart of a woman as Mr. Morley does into Kitty’s and be able to write convincingly in the first person a book so rich with feminine observations” (Chicago Daily Tribune). Reviewers were thereby impressed by Morley’s eerily accurate portrayal of the inner workings of a woman’s mind, which they found to be more willingly revealing than expected. The gendered dichotomy of narration is perhaps best exemplified by an advertisement from the New York Times: “On the surface, [Kitty Foyle] is an autobiography, but no woman would think of baring her thoughts and reactions as Kitty does, and that fact makes the novel entirely Morley. Yet no woman could tell her story better” (New York Times, Display Ad 254). Morley’s narrative technique, writing as a male voice embodying that of a female, famously bridged a gap in the gender divide.


In addition to praising Morley’s narrative voice and technique, reviewers repeatedly noted the appeal of Kitty herself as a character, whom they found shared a refreshingly unguarded and honest perspective. They praised Kitty for being “frank and open, and her reactions completely modern” (Cleveland Open Shelf, Book Review Digest). Reviewers also noted, “Kitty speaks throughout, not always politely but usually to the point. She is in her late twenties, smart, honest, proud of herself and her work, indomitable, typical of what she herself calls the White Collar Girl” (Thompson). For this reviewer, the idea that Kitty represents a typified American demographic as a “white collar girl,” and that she can personify this characterization with shameless sincerity furthers the novel’s appeal. Even criticisms of the book draw on these aspects of Kitty’s unfiltered, honest story: Beresford complains, “We could wish that Mr. Morley had chosen a more interesting heroine. Kitty is a good average modern American girl, a trifle too aware of her own value, but she had a commonplace mind and does not very strongly invite our sympathies.” While condemning reviews such as this exist in lesser frequency than commending reviews, this perspective importantly emphasizes that Kitty’s acute representation of the white-collar, modern American girl comes across strongly, and accurately portrays an existing demographic.


Interestingly and of related note, there is evidence that Kitty Foyle had a substantial influence on 1940s women’s fashion. Multiple advertisements resulting from a search for contemporary reviews describe the “Kitty Foyle collar” as an iconic piece of the feminine wardrobe. An advertisement from The Los Angeles Times for a women’s dress enthusiastically claims, “the urge to wear a soldier suit is currently resulting in military styles. The men are taking to uniforms. The women are taking to sailor collars … It’s the white peak of the Kitty-Foyle collar, however, which gives this dress its striking appeal. Fresh and flattering to the face is this touch of white in a square pattern which gives your figure a very trim, almost military look” (Weaver). An additional advertisement from The Los Angeles Times for a similar women’s suit-dress claims “another charming suit has a Kitty Foyle collar of white pique in a square sailor-like outline over the neckline and shoulders of gray.” It is unclear whether or not the “Kitty-Foyle collar” was more inspired by the novel or its film adaptation; however, it is apparent that Kitty Foyle’s character achieved iconic, desirable status among women of the 1940s.


Sources Consulted:

Beresford, J. D. 1940. Four novels. The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959), Feb 23, 1940. (accessed March 27, 2018).

Butcher, Fanny. 1942. BOOKS. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Nov 25, 1942. (Accessed March 27, 2018).

Charques, R. D. "Persistent Wooer." Times Literary Supplement [London, England] 17 Feb. 1940: 85. Times Literary Supplement Historical Archive. Web. 27 Mar. 2018.

Gale Literary Criticism:

Gordon, Milton M. “Kitty Foyle and the Concept of Class as Culture.” American Journal of Sociology, vol. 53, no. 3, 1947, pp. 210–217. Accessed 27 Mar. 2018.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers:

Readex Newsbank:

Stephens, Jan. "A Choice of Ten Good Entertainments." Times Literary Supplement [London, England] 16 Mar. 1940: 140. Times Literary Supplement Historical Archive. Web. 27 Mar. 2018.

Thompson, Ralph. 1939. BOOKS OF THE TIMES. New York Times (1923-Current file), Dec 05, 1939.

TLS Historical Archive:

Weaver, Sylva. 1941. Kitty foyle collar marks pert sailor-style dress. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File), Feb 28, 1941.  

“Black Taffeta Again in Vogue.” 1941. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File), Feb 19, 1941. Accessed March 27, 2018.

“Book Review Digest.” H.W. Wilson Company, New York, v. 35 (1939), p. 691-692; v. 38 (1942), p.548-549; consulted v. 35-40 (1939-1944).

“Display ad 254 -- no title.” 1940. New York Times (1923-Current file), Feb 11, 1940. Accessed March 27, 2018.

“Facts on File: Bibliography of American Fiction, 1919-1988.” Edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli and Judith S. Baughman. Facts on File, New York, 1991.

"Working-Girl Type Limned." Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Califronia. Jan 1941.

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

Few substantive reviews of Christopher Morley’s Kitty Foyle exist during the subsequent years following its initial publication. Most reviews after 1944 pertain to the novel’s success as a film, radio series, or television series, often referring to the novel version of Kitty Foyle with complements and praise. For example, an advertisement for Kitty Foyle’s television premiere capitalizes on the novel’s success, reading: “Front Row Center presents on CBS Television Christopher Morley’s famous best-selling novel” (Plain Dealer). This approach is typical for subsequent media productions of Kitty Foyle, which often aim to draw upon the novel’s success as a strategy for capturing public interest for the novel’s various media productions.


One 1947 review of the novel version of Kitty Foyle described how the novel’s target audience could relate to Kitty’s persona as a young, modern, “white-collar” working girl, and this partially contributed to the novel’s success. The reviewer commented that “thousands of Los Angeles White-Collar girls will see themselves portrayed in type,” demonstrating Kitty’s ability to transcend geographic boundaries of Philadelphia or Chicago (where the story takes place) or New York (Morley’s home at the time), and connect to a similar demographic across the country (Los Angeles Times). This aspect of the novel affirms part of the publishing history noted in the second entry above, which suggests that the target audience was this independent, working-woman demographic.


An article from a 1958 Daily Defender illustrates Ginger Rogers, the star of the film version of Kitty Foyle, using her professional success as an actress in Kitty Foyle as a platform for advocacy for “equal rights and opportunities” for women. The article quotes her calling for “equal pay for equal work, and equal opportunity” for women, especially in the “motion picture industry.” Thus, in the novel version of Kitty Foyle, Christopher Morley clearly established a well-known image of the modern American working girl that was expanded upon for the purpose of social justice advocacy.


Obituaries published following Christopher Morley’s death in March 1957 repeatedly refer to Kitty Foyle as his “best known novel” (The Washington Post and Times Herald, Plain Dealer, Richmond Times Dispatch). Despite Morley’s literary successes, not all obituaries found even mention Morley’s literary accomplishments (New York Times).


Sources Consulted:

"Actress Advocates Equal Rights, Opportunities for Weaker Sex." Daily Defender (Daily Edition) (1956-1960), Sep 18, 1958, pp. 15, ProQuest. Accessed 28 Mar. 2018.

“Author Morley Is Dead at 66.” 1957. The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959), Mar 29, 1957. Accessed March 28, 2018.

Gale Literary Criticism:

Plain Dealer, 29 Mar. 1957, p. 11. Readex: Readex AllSearch, Accessed 28 Mar. 2018.

Plain Dealer, 13 July 1955, p. 25. Readex: Readex AllSearch, Accessed 28 Mar. 2018.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers:

Readex Newsbank:

Richmond Times Dispatch, 31 Mar. 1957, p. 23. Readex: Readex AllSearch, Accessed 28 Mar. 2018.

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

Christopher Morley’s Kitty Foyle was popularized for its eerily accurate insight into the mind of an independent, enterprising young woman who candidly illustrates a coming-of-age story of love, independence, and sexual sensationalism. The novel achieved great success almost immediately after its publication in late October 1939, reaching the fictional bestseller list before the year’s end and remaining there for many months to follow. Kitty Foyle exhibits a number of characteristics that helped it reach the bestseller lists, including its fearless assumption of sexual exploration, comprised of a tasteful approach to scandal and an inspiring claim to feminine independence, and its relatability for the average reader, conveyed through emotional narrative candor and its placement within historical context.

As is common in many books that reach the bestseller list, Kitty Foyle invokes sexual sensationalism that, in this book, manifests in two main forms: tastefully-embedded scandal and feminine independence. Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers’ The Bestseller Code, a research-backed book dedicated to explaining computed trends among bestselling fiction, delves into the value of tastefully-communicated sexual scandal in books. It notes that sexuality in bestsellers will typically “suggest intimacy and not aggression. A sex scene will make the list if it moves the plot between characters and forward. If it is a gratuitous aside, not needed for storytelling, it likely will not chart” (47). Kitty Foyle’s narration successfully incorporates scandal and sexuality in a way that forwards the plot without surpassing the threshold of what readers may consider too graphic; this characteristic helps explain why the book became a bestseller. Kitty’s relationship with Wyn Stafford is objectively scandalous, as it occurs as an extramarital affair between two people of traditionally separate social classes, culminating in an unexpected pregnancy and secret abortion. Despite the extremely overt scandal in the plot, the way in which Morley chooses to communicate it keeps it within acceptable boundaries of bestsellers, adhering to The Bestseller Code’s predictive analysis of bestsellers. Many scenes throughout the story allude to scandal and sexual encounters without ever using graphic illustration. Instead of placing emphasis on scandalous physical attraction, Morley focuses on the emotional love between Kitty and Wyn. Kitty conveys this focus when she asserts, “I think I can say I’m affectionate but I’m not promiscuous” (44). Kitty chooses to address her aborted pregnancy, which arguably marks the most scandalous part of the story, as a quick flashback, making the scandal apparent to the reader without utilizing overwhelmingly graphic descriptions or elevated emphasis. Morley’s careful craft in this section successfully weaves an appropriate level of scandalous sensationalism into the novel, as The Bestseller Code predicts of a bestseller. Furthermore, Kitty’s relationship with Wyn transcends the sensational scandal of a physical relationship, instead portrayed as a deep emotional bond between two unlikely lovers. The Bestseller Code emphasizes that a successful novel will incorporate sexuality through “human closeness and human connection,” as well as “moments of shared intimacy, shared chemistry, and shared bonds” rather than scandalous physical encounters (67). Kitty’s narration demonstrates clear casual intimacy and romance with Wyn. She openly speaks of her love for him and reveals the intricate secrets of their relationship, such as her fascination with their “language of their own” (68). By approaching Kitty and Wyn’s relationship with an emphasis on emotional connection instead of through directly graphic depictions, Morley engages in this necessary quality of bestsellers. Not only does Kitty and Wyn’s relationship exemplify tasteful scandal and sensationalism, but Morley is able to balance scandal with the necessary intimacy that drives fiction to the bestseller lists.

In addition to an alluring and tasteful incorporation of scandal and intimacy, Kitty Foyle’s exploration of feminine independence can further explain the novel’s success. Kitty demonstrates characteristics of the typified “heroine noir” character, who historically appeals to readers and is characteristic of bestsellers. The Bestseller Code explains that for books with this character, “the protagonist is female. She has great agency and is central to a plotline...her most-used verbs are need and want” (192). The attraction that underpins Kitty’s relationship with Wyn and derives the novel’s scandalous characteristics exemplifies this “needing” and “wanting.” Kitty admits that she is “guilty of being human, of having human desires and needs and hopes” (45). Her “needs” and “wants” are  also evident in the way that she takes control of her love life and career, allowing herself to take risks without worry of the social implications (as seen in situations ranging from standing up for her independence from Wyn to radically accepting a job in Chicago). Kitty Foyle also aligns with The Bestseller Code’s description of the successful morally evocative “domestic noir,” which “is all about a new kind of female heroine, the girl. This girl is significant because she...takes us into a relationship, into marriage and into family, and she turns all the stereotypes on their heads” (170). Kitty exemplifies the “domestic noir” primarily by repeatedly rejecting and challenging traditional gender conventions. At times, she does this explicitly, such as through philosophical asides: “the more [Wyn] would tell me solemnly it was Man’s job to teach Woman about Beauty, the more he was really asking me to help him learn” (50), “Men are so sentimental they’ve pretty near taught Women to be sentimental too” (237), and “Men are good about Telling the World, but pretty often some woman whispered it to him first” (200). In these quotes, she acknowledges common stereotypes of men and women, assertively pushing against them and challenging the reader to reconsider his or her perceptions of social norms. Kitty further demonstrates characteristics of The Bestseller Code’s “domestic noir” through her interactions with Wyn. When he presents her with the snake ring, she rejects conventional relationship expectations by satirically wondering about “how many Philadelphia girls ever had a proposal of marriage in a Chicago speakeasy” (206). Additionally, before deciding to abort her unplanned pregnancy, Kitty prepares to tell Wyn, “‘If it has your looks and my brains, and we keep it away from the Main Line, it’ll go places,” challenging traditional gender roles and rejecting high-class lifestyle (264). Finally, Kitty proudly rejects even the most explicitly fundamental gender roles by reflecting on her own individual actions with specific disregard for societal expectations of a woman: “Here’s K. Foyle - exactly not doing everything a woman ought to be good at. She’s not having a baby, and she’s not cooking meals, and she’s not even earning a living at a business that’s only a fairytale anyhow” (272). Her conscious flight from stereotypes is affirmed when she rejects marriage with Wyn in favor of moving to Chicago and creating a career for herself as a self-proclaimed “Career Woman” (308). She is proudly aware of her radical relationship with Wyn and strives to make this clear to the reader. In these ways, Kitty displays a moral objection to traditional gender roles, rejecting them with shrewd conviction characteristic of a bestseller’s “domestic noir” character.

Kitty Foyle’s time on the bestseller list can also be attributed to its relatability to readers, exemplified by Kitty’s honest narration, her characteristic appeal to a white-collar working-girl demographic, and the story’s accurate placement in the time period of its publication. First, readers and critics alike praised Kitty’s emotional narrative candor; she expresses vulnerability that makes her relatable to readers, accumulating praise. Kitty’s stream-of-consciousness narrative is approachable, conversational, and unguarded. She rapidly switches topics and narrative techniques by recording self-interrogation, reflecting on memories, and asserting acutely personal opinions. One reviewer affirmed that great value exists in Kitty’s honesty, commenting that “the story matters less than the charming intimacy with which it is confided” (Charques). On the most personal topics, Kitty fearlessly shares her innermost emotions, such as when she writes about her intense love for Wyn: “partly I thought he was God and partly I was just taking care of him. I know I could never be ashamed or humiliated or unhappy again. I know what life was for” (49). She reveals her true feelings on even extremely controversial topics, including her emotional response to her abortion: “I felt sorry, and selfish maybe, and like I’d lost something beautiful and real, but I couldn’t feel any kind of wrongness. I did what I had to do” (101). By maintaining a candidness with the reader, Kitty makes herself relatable, which assisted in driving the novel to the top of the bestseller lists.

Kitty’s narrative vulnerability lends itself to another characteristic of bestselling novels according to The Bestseller Code: using “realism,” and “sticking to real people” is important to a successful narrative (64, 69). In addition to previously mentioned narrative digressions about emotions and love, Kitty conveys realism in her coming-of-age story. She laughs about “the first time I suffered the big female problem Nothing to Wear” (101), illustrates her childhood summers spent at Tidewood, and describes the dramatic adventure of “Senior Prom” (114). Critics agree that Kitty’s narration provides the realistic emotional vulnerability that The Bestseller Code suggest. One critic asserts, “What she sees in her own us a persuasive and most agreeable picture of middle-class American life” (Stephens). Kitty’s open and realistic approach to readers allow them to form a deeper connection with her story, acting as a contributing factor to its success as a bestseller.

In addition to connecting to readers through candid narration, Kitty’s persona as a white-collar worker makes her especially relatable to a similar demographic and furthered Kitty Foyle’s best-selling success. Upon publication, J.B. Lippincolt’s advertising campaign specifically aimed to “personalize the heroine and make her a talk-about woman” in order to connect with an intended audience of “intelligent women”(Publisher’s Weekly). Their successful campaign attracted the readership of a rising class group, referred to as the “modern working girl” (Hackett). These primary readers took interest in Kitty’s proud transformational journey into a self-proclaimed “White Collar Girl” and fierce defense for women of that class. Kitty assuredly validates her social position as a Chicago makeup saleswoman, claiming that she and her fellow co-workers and roommates “figured that three white collar girls living together learn as much as college” (304). She further rejects class mobilization and asserts her autonomous independence when she famously rejects Wyn’s offer to send her to college to make her suitable for marriage. Kitty famously declares, “So they tried to sell you the idea they’d trim up Kitty so she could go to the Assembly and make Old Philadelphia Family of her, hey?...They can’t do that to Kitty Foyle...By God, I’ll improve you all I want but you can’t improve me” (241). By fiercely defending the white-collar working girl lifestyle and rejecting a great opportunity for social mobility, Kitty emerges as an emblem of the white-collar working girl class. This made her an inspiring image for the specific American white-collar working girl demographic, facilitating the novel’s success among its target audience.

Kitty Foyle’s relatability to readers at the time of its publication can also be attributed to its assimilation into historical context. Kitty references events and sentiment popular in 1930s-1940s American life, allowing readers to find her perspective and customs relatable. Critics recognize elements of the novel that made it especially appealing to the 1940s interwar period crowd. One scholarly response to Kitty Foyle recognized that the “White Collar Girls” emerged in the workforce around the time that Kitty Foyle was published, and resultantly, “through Kitty, Morley connects women’s changing roles to prospective US involvement in World War II” (Rogers-Carpenter). The novel further connected to pre-World War II sentiment through its approach to relationships, especially Kitty’s marriage to Marcus Eisen. The same analysis suggested that in Kitty Foyle, “reproduction is represented as a strategic source of future leaders who will defend the home front; intermarriage between ethnic whites is advanced as a way to reinvigorate the gene pool” (Rogers-Carpenter). Thus, interwar readers could have potentially interpreted Kitty’s decision to eventually settle down in marriage with Marcus Eisen as a logical response to high international death rates. Additionally, Kitty’s close affiliation with her Irish-American identity connected to immigrant culture in America, appealing especially to descendants of Irish immigrants in the U.S. Kitty’s Irish heritage provides an especially meaningful connection with her father; Pop’s Irish tunes are constant in Kitty’s narrative, appearing in scenes from her early childhood through his death (14, 20, 135). Descendents of U.S. immigrants may have recognized themselves in her ties to cultural ancestry, which could have attributed to the novel’s favorableness. Critics also claim that Kitty’s discussion of heritage, religion, and race marks a consciousness of a global eugenic movement (Weingarten). This argument can be mainly traced to her childhood focus on Myrtle’s blackness (17-18, 191, 195), her extensive reference to Hitler (325-326) and her consciousness of her husband’s Jewish identity (325-237). Kitty’s consciousness of these events and movements during the 1930s-1940s may also have functioned as a means of similar ideological sentiment between herself and her readers, leading to increased readership and appreciation for her story.

Kitty Foyle achieved bestselling success nearly immediately following its publication. Commonalities among fictional bestsellers combined critic reviews of Kitty Foyle help provide an explanation for its bestselling status. These sources reveal that Kitty Foyle’s success can be attributed to its courageous pursuit of sexual and gender exploration, composed of tasteful sexual sensationalism and an inspiring feminine individualism, and its relatability to the average reader, seen through narrative candor, relatability to an emerging white-collar demographic, and references to historical sentiment at the time of its publishing. Kitty Foyle served as an inspiring image of feminine autonomy and success during its early years and continues to move readers today.



Sources Consulted

Charques, R. D. “Persistent Wooer.” Times Literary Supplement Historical Archive, 17 Feb. 1940, p. 85.

Hackett, Alice Payne, and James Henry Burke. 80 Years of Best Sellers, 1895-1975. R. R. Bowker Co., 1976.

Morley, Christopher. Kitty Foyle. J.B. Lippincott, 1939.

Rogers-Carpenter, Katherine. “Re-Envisioning 1920s Working Women: The Case of Kitty Foyle.” Women’s Studies, vol. 37, no. 6, Sept. 2008, pp. 707–30.

Stephens, Jan. “A Choice of Ten Good Entertainments.” Times Literary Supplement Historical Archive, 16 Mar. 1949, p. 140.

Thompson, Ralph. “Books of the Times.” New York Times (1923-Current File), Dec. 1939.

Weingarten, Karen. “Bad Girls and Biopolitics: Abortion, Popular Fiction, and Population Control.” Project Muse: Literature and Medicine, vol. 29, Spring 2011.

“Mr. Morley’s Sparking ‘Kitty Foyle.’” New York Times (1923-Current File), 29 Oct. 1939, p. 1. Publisher’s Weekly. Vol. 137 Part 1, Publisher’s Weekly.

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