From Kirkus Reviews
This memoir by the creator of the once popular Kewpie figure lacks the literary strength to raise it above a mere curiosity. Until the advent of Mickey Mouse, the elfin Kewpies (`` `baby talk' for Cupid'') were, as one merchandiser told her, ``the greatest success . . . in the history of toys.'' Introduced by illustrator O'Neill in 1909, they appeared in magazines for decades, generating goodwill and spawning books, dolls, clubs, even leading one periodical to declare a need for a ``Religion of the Kewpies.'' Agreeably androgynous and unconventional, they reflected their creator's interests. A respected writer and artist, she often investigated the melding of male and female identities in her works--all the while maintaining her mainstream position as America's leading female illustrator. Such variety, plus two marriages, role-reversing parents, and a wayfaring life, could constitute a fascinating life story. However, in aiming, as the editor (a historian at the University of Missouri, Kansas City) says, ``to dissolve the boundaries between male and female form'' by fusing linear male narrative with personal female observations, O'Neill produced an autobiography that makes for an interesting experiment but not an absorbing experience. There's not enough about family and artistic development here, and the text is burdened with too much antique reportage (``Booth and Louisa took Harry and me to Pierrefonds'' and the like). Wealthy and famous, O'Neill retired to the Ozarks in the 1930s. Florid writing and lack of drama rule out a popular readership, though as a record of the artistic concerns of a distinctive woman and shaper of popular sensibilities, it may be useful for historians. (15 illustrations, not seen) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
From the Back Cover
To most of us, Rose O'Neill is best known as the creator of the Kewpie doll, perhaps the most widely known character in American culture until Mickey Mouse. Prior to O'Neill's success as a doll designer, however, she already had earned a reputation as one of the best-known female commercial illustrators. Her numerous illustrations appeared in America's leading periodicals, including Life, Harper's Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan. While highly successful in the commercial world, Rose O'Neill was also known among intellectuals and artists for her contributions to the fine arts and humanities. In the early 1920s, her more serious works of art were exhibited in galleries in Paris and New York City. In addition, she published a book of poetry and four novels. Yet who was Rose Cecil O'Neill? Over the course of the twentieth century, Rose O'Neill has captured the attention of journalists, collectors, fans, and scholars who have disagreed over whether she was a sentimentalist or a cultural critic. In these memoirs, O'Neill reveals herself as a woman who preferred art, activism, and adventure to motherhood and marriage. Featuring photographs from the O'Neill family collection, The Story of Rose O'Neill fully reveals the ways in which she pushed at the boundaries of her generation's definitions of gender in an effort to create new liberating forms.