"All writers need support, but many women in early career have fewer resources available to them and often many demands made upon them. It gives me great pleasure to help some of them make their way at this early stage."
Photo by Philippe Halsman ©Halsman Archive
Rona Jaffe was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1931. She was the daughter of Samuel Jaffe, a high school principal, and Diana (née Ginsberg) Jaffe, the daughter of Moses Ginsberg, the construction magnate who built the Carlyle Hotel.
Rona was raised on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and was a lifelong New Yorker. She attended the Dalton School and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1951 at the age of 19. In her early twenties she worked at Fawcett Publications, starting as a file clerk and working her way up to associate editor. At twenty-five she quit her job to focus on a novel she had started about women in the publishing industry.
In the fall of 1958, her first novel, The Best of Everything, was published by Simon & Schuster. The work, provocative and prescient, hit a nerve among readers, especially women, and became an overnight success and bestseller. The following year, a film adaptation was released starring Joan Crawford, Hope Lange, Suzy Parker, and Diane Baker. Rona went on to write fifteen more novels during her career, including Class Reunion, Family Secrets, The Road Taken, and The Room-Mating Season. The Best of Everything was reprinted in 2005 and continues to be a cultural touchstone.
In 1995 she established The Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards (1995-2020), a program to identify and support emerging women writers of exceptional talent and promise in recognition of the important contributions they make to our culture. After her death in 2005, the Foundation broadened its support for women writers by establishing fellowships at distinguished cultural and educational nonprofit institutions throughout the country.
Rona Jaffe's beloved and groundbreaking work The Best of Everything will be released as part of the prestigious Penguin Classics series in tandem with the novel's 65th anniversary in March 2023.