The Rose of Washington Square: A Novel of Rose O'Neill, Creator of the Kewpie Doll
A biographical historical fiction novel about Rose O’Neill, the creator of the Kewpie doll
June 1893, nineteen-year-old Rose O’Neill travels from the Midwest to New York, determined to sell her illustrations. It’s a tough industry, and Rose is accompanied by a couple of nuns, who chaperone her as she tries to sell her wares in a profession dominated by males. Rose dreams of becoming a successful illustrator and hopes to make a better life for herself and her family back home. Following numerous rejections, Rose walks the streets of New York, knocking on the door of every publishing office she can find. When her work is finally accepted by a magazine publisher, Mr Martin, she begins to earn good money. Her illustrations prove very popular, and Rose creates Kewpie, a cute cherub character. The Kewpie character becomes popular with women and children, and Rose is approached to produce a Kewpie doll. Kewpie dolls are a huge success, and Rose earns a significant amount of money. Rose uses her income to support her family, friends and other struggling artists. But her personal life is less successful, as she marries and divorces twice, during a time when divorce is uncommon. Rose becomes heavily involved in the women’s suffragette movement, and immerses herself into her art, whilst supporting other artists.
The Rose of Washington Square by Pat Wahler is a biographical historical fiction novel about the fascinating life of Rose O’Neill, illustrator and creator of the Kewpie doll. During a time when women had few legal and political rights, and limited employment opportunities, Rose became the highest earning female illustrator of her time. Yet, despite her extraordinary success, Rose faced a number of obstacles in her career and in her personal life. She never gave up hope, and she continued to follow her dream, whilst using her talent and success to help and support others less fortunate. The book provides an extraordinary insight into her fascinating life and phenomenal career.
This is a well-researched and beautifully written biographical historical fiction novel, which captures the extraordinary life and legacy of Rose O’Neill. It follows her journey from artist, illustrator, writer and inventor, to philanthropist and suffragette. The book will appeal to readers of historical fiction biographies and women’s fiction.
Star rating: 5 Stars
Summary: A fascinating rags to riches biographical historical fiction novel about Rose O’Neill, artist, illustrator, writer, inventor, philanthropist and suffragette.