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Living Large: Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason by…
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Living Large: Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason

by Joseph P. Eckhardt

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received my copy of "Living Large" through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers and was glad to have met, through these pages, Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason. Oh, to have been one of the pair of these delightful women. To have walked in their shoes in the recently bygone era. With plenty of photographs to highlight their lives I recommend this for your personal library as you will want to "live large," as they did and perhaps strive towards this once you're done! Thank you LibraryThing! ( )
  sdmtngirl | Apr 5, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I have to admit that I have never heard of Wilna Hervey or Nan Mason before receiving this book, but I now wish I had met them.
Both women were full of life, love and adventure and lived their lives the way they wanted as a same sex couple before this was such an accepted thing.
Wilna was a silent movie star and both women were artists in later life. They became well known members of the early day Woodstock, NY community where they charmed everyone, gave fantastic parties, farmed , raised animals, and created their various forms of art.
The book is very well researched and full of pictures of the "large girls", their homes and art. I really enjoyed this book! ( )
  patmil | Mar 8, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book is a charming foray into the years that Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason spent together. It travels from Hollywood to the artist colony at Woodstock, NY to Carmel and on to Florida sharing tidbits of these two artistic and charming women. There is a wonderful assortment of their works pictured throughout and I can not think of a better way to dip your toe into the 50+ years that they shared their lives. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an enchanting and entertaining trip of these women's lives and the lives of those that they met along the way. ( )
  MareF | Feb 25, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received a copy of "Living Large" in exchange for an honest review.
I am happy to say that I loved this book. It's a carefully and lovingly researched biography of two women I had never heard of --Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason. As it turned out, their life story was fascinating.

Born in 1894, Wilna Hervey, a large child from birth, grew to be 6’4” and weigh 350 pounds; her size led to her being cast as ‘Powerful Katrinka’ in the Toonerville Trolley silent movies. Of the two women, she is the best known, mainly by fans of silent film.

Wilma had well-to-do loving parents, who educated her at home since she did not fit in at school with other girls. She was artistic from a young age, but shy. Drawing and painting were her main passions; however it was as Mighty Katrinka that she was best known, even though that was a short part of her long life. And it was through the Toonerville movies and her co-star Dan Mason, that she met the woman with whom she’d spend the rest of her life: Mason’s daughter, Nan.

Nan and Wilna had no intentions of being a couple at first; they both were involved with men- Nan had a fiance. But their lives fit together. Nan was nearly as tall as Wilna, and they shared an interest in art. They found that life in the Woodstock area, in an artist’s colony, suited them very well. And since Wilna was an heiress, they could afford to live as they pleased. The Big Girls as they were known lived together 59 years in harmony, with a large circle of friends and fellow artists.

I especially enjoyed the many vintage photographs and illustrations which the publisher, Woodstock Arts, included in this handsome edition. For me, this book is a keeper. ( )
  myrnagottlieb | Dec 29, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I'm a film nerd and so when I saw this book offered on the LibraryThing Giveaways, I knew I had to have it. Living Large wonderfully captures lives of Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason, as well as celebrates their artistic talents and achievements. So much of women's histories - particularly the lives of lesbians - is lost or deliberately hidden, and I commend author Joseph Eckhardt's research. This is a fantastic book on two fascinating women, and I recommend it to anyone interested in film, art, LGTBQ, or Woodstock. ( )
  ligature | Dec 19, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0967926882, Hardcover)

Living Large: Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason, by noted silent film historian Joseph P. Eckhardt, is by turns a rollicking dual biography and a sweet love story. Wilna Hervey a six-foot-three-inch, three-hundred-pound heiress won the role of "The Powerful Katrinka" in the Toonerville Trolley comedies of the early nineteen-twenties through her impressive size. Her evocation of Katrinka was so successful that it became a permanent part of her identity.

Wilna's movie work brought her something else that would long endure--a partner for life. While filming on location in the Philadelphia suburbs, Wilna Hervey met Nan Mason, the surprisingly tall daughter of her Toonerville co-star, Dan Mason. Wilna and Nan became close friends and ultimately life partners.

They discovered that they had a mutual passion for art. So when Wilna's cinema work began to wane, she and Nan decided to pursue careers as artists in the famed artists' colony at Woodstock, New York. As artists, Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason evolved into accomplished and imaginative talents, exploring a wide variety of genres over the course of their long careers. As a same-sex couple, living in one of the few American communities where they could comfortably be themselves, the "Big Girls," as they were known locally, carved out extraordinarily creative lives for themselves. Uninterested in defining themselves except as artists, they lived a free and joyous existence, fully participating in the life of their community. They hosted some of the wildest parties ever seen in the Catskills, and frequently used their legendary "full moon" soirées to raise money for local causes such as the Woodstock Library and the children's health center.

An irrepressible enthusiasm permeated everything that Wilna and Nan did, whether it was building a real estate empire, trying their luck as farmers, painting houses or entertaining bar patrons with medleys of quaint old songs. Their many friends included a number of noteworthy figures in twentieth-century American arts and letters: film director Frank Capra; photographer Edward Weston; portrait artist Eugene Speicher; the Whitney Museum's Juliana Force; painters Henry Lee McFee, William Pachner and Charles Rosen; and legendary children's book illustrators Maud and Miska Petersham.

Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason were inseparable for the better part of six decades. Their unfailing devotion to each other was respected, even admired, by their friends. Their enduring partnership, the art it inspired and their go-for-broke lifestyle form the major narrative arc of Living Large.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 09 Jul 2015 14:26:20 -0400)

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