Margaret Fishback: Background information when reading Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

by Kathleen Rooney

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney X
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2017, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2018, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers

Buy This Book

About this Book

Margaret Fishback

This article relates to Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

Print Review

The titular character of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk is modeled after real-life ad copywriter and poet, Margaret Fishback.

Margaret Fishback In a detailed biography of Fishback at the Poetry Foundation, Lillian Boxfish author Kathleen Rooney offers us a fascinating glimpse of a woman who was far ahead of her time, taking to print to declare that she didn't need a husband to support her. Starting out as a school teacher, Fishback took on a job at the lower rungs of copywriting at the prestigious department store R. H. Macy's (today referred to simply as Macy's) but quickly rose through the ranks, eventually becoming chief copywriter. She was a highly paid woman in the advertising world of the 1930s, a time when the Great Depression firmly had its grip over the United States.

The field of advertising, as most others, was dominated by men. Yet Fishback, with her whimsical yet succinct rhymes, succeeded in selling products to other women through her advertising.

A memorable ad for Macy's scotch whisky used the store's tagline "It's Smart To be Thrifty" to good effect (as an aside, while today Macy's is known as a more upscale department store, in the '30s it was good policy to emphasize thrift):

When you want a wee snifty ... / It's smart to be thrifty."
We'd charge for such a noble drink,
York House is called THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE.
Come lift your lubricated voice
With ours, in praise of Macy's Brand
Of Scotch! It's glorious! It's grand!
And popular as all get-out
of that there's not the slightest doubt.

A copywriter by day, Fishback penned poetry by night with her verses appearing in prestigious publications such as The New Yorker and The New York Times.

After years of independence, in her 30s, Fishback married the principal rug buyer at Macy's, Alberto Gastone Antolini. They had a son but the marriage did not last. The demands of wedded life and motherhood lead Fishback to quit her job at Macy's. Instead she freelanced for many years doing work for General Foods and Clairol among others.

As time went on, it became more difficult for Fishback to place her poetry as the jaunty rhyme-like style she favored slowly faded out of fashion. Fishback died at the age of 85 at her farm in Camden, Maine.

Picture of Margaret Fishback by G. Maillard Keslere and courtesy of St. Martin's Press

This "beyond the book article" relates to Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk. It originally ran in January 2017 and has been updated for the April 2018 paperback edition.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Wrong Heaven
    The Wrong Heaven
    by Amy Bonnafons
    The narrators of the short story collection The Wrong Heaven are plagued by critical talking lawn ...
  • Book Jacket: Southernmost
    Southernmost
    by Silas House
    Southernmost opens with a devastating flood in Cumberland Valley, Tennessee. Could it be divine ...
  • Book Jacket: Confessions of the Fox
    Confessions of the Fox
    by Jordy Rosenberg
    In Confessions of the Fox, a fictional academic, Dr. Voth, finds a manuscript in the library where ...
  • Book Jacket: Tango Lessons
    Tango Lessons
    by Meghan Flaherty
    Meghan Flaherty's touching memoir, Tango Lessons, reveals some hard but important truths about ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

The incredible true story of the women who fought America's Undark danger.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    So Much Life Left Over
    by Louis de Bernieres

    An evocative and emotional novel set between the World Wars.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Our House
    by Louise Candlish

    A disturbing and addictive novel of domestic suspense.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Meet Me at the Museum
    by Anne Youngson

    A celebration of letters, kindred spirits and writing a new story for yourself.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Vox

VOX by Christina Dalcher

The story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter in a society where half the population is silenced.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T B Y Speak

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.