The Invention of Helen Gurley Brown and the Rise of the Modern Single Woman
In 1965, Helen Gurley Brown, author of the groundbreaking bestseller Sex and the Single Girl, took over an ailing Cosmopolitan and soon revamped it into one of the most bankable—and revolutionary—brands on the planet. At a time when women’s magazines taught housewives how to make the perfect casserole, Helen spoke directly to the single girl next door, cheekily advising her on how to pursue men, money, power, pleasure, and, most of all, personal happiness.
In this retro romp that will appeal to fans of Mad Men, journalist Brooke Hauser reveals how a self-proclaimed “mouseburger” from the Ozarks became one of the most influential women of her time. Though she was married, to the renowned movie producer David Brown, no one embodied the idea of the Cosmo Girl more than Helen, who willed, worked, and flirted her way to the top. Bringing New York City vibrantly to life during the sexual revolution and the women’s movement, and featuring a rich cast of characters, including Hugh Hefner and Gloria Steinem, Enter Helen is the riveting story of a polarizing pioneer who bucked convention to define her own destiny, baiting a generation that both revered and rejected her.
Praise & Reviews
An Entertainment Weekly “Must List” pick: “Legendary, inimitable Cosmopolitan editor and Sex and the Single Girl author Helen Gurley Brown comes alive in Hauser’s hands.”
“Brown deserves the biography that Brooke Hauser has written, Enter Helen. It is entertaining, thoughtfully researched and—the ultimate encomium where HGB was concerned—fun.” —The Washington Post
“A must-read piece of proto-feminist history.” —Lenny
“Given how much of Brown’s life was work, you can see why Hauser wanted that day-to-day focus, and her easy, personal style counteracts it, often inhabiting Helen’s perspective. Hauser does pull out some truly juicy moments.” —Jezebel
A Cosmopolitan “Must-Read”: “Hauser dives deep into the life of our former HBIC and uncovers what drove her to revolutionize the way we live and date today. HGB, we TY.”
“As Brooke Hauser’s lively biography . . . reveals, [Helen Gurley Brown] was as comfortable championing single ‘career girls’ as she was giving them tips on how to catch a man—and her own contradictory, have-it-all life proved to be as compelling as the era she helped define.” —OK Magazine
“A riveting . . . complex biography . . . Such a great read. Enter Helen is neither hagiographic nor damning.” —Washington Independent Review of Books
“Journalist Brooke Hauser’s breezy and entertaining new biography . . . chronicles Brown’s remarkable story, which is also a social history of two decades—the sixties and the seventies—whose cultural impact remains significant.” —Acculturated
“Enter Helen is a Wizard of Oz story about a feisty girl from the Ozarks, the original Sex and the City gal Helen Gurley Brown. Brooke Hauser enters her life like slipping into a pair of Helen’s infamous fishnets, weaving a compelling drama about a determined woman and Cosmopolitan editor, and revealing how powerful (and threatening) a female in command of her pocketbook, sexuality, and career can really be.” —Lily Koppel, New York Times bestselling author of The Astronaut Wives Club
“Reading Enter Helen was like being at a party, and I’m sorry it had to end. With this sexy, riveting book, Brooke Hauser takes us on a joy ride through the 1960s and ’70s of Helen Gurley Brown’s life. It feels light and breezy, but—like Brown herself—Hauser’s story is engaging and important.” —Linda Wells, Founding Editor-in-Chief of Allure
“Hauser has conjured up the crazy, post-Mad Men era so realistically I unexpectedly found myself missing it, and painted a picture of my old boss so lifelike I alternately teared and tensed up.” —a former Cosmo staffer
Read “The Dawn of the Career Girl” in Marie Claire.
Read “The bold move that propelled a legendary Cosmo editor to fame” in the New York Post.
Read “How ‘Cosmo’ Got Burt Reynolds to Pose Nude — and All the Noes Who Came Before Him” on Entertainment Tonight online.
Media & Interviews
Read “Q&A: Naked Burt Reynolds and man-hunting in Vietnam: Helen Gurley Brown biographer Brooke Hauser on how the Cosmo girl came to be” in the Los Angeles Times.
Read “The Author of Enter Helen on Why Helen Gurley Brown is Such an Enigma” in Vogue.
Read “Helen Gurley Brown was the Original Bad Feminist” on Refinery29.
Read “Why Put a Ring On It?” in The Economist.
Read “The Sneaky Progressive Feminism of Cosmopolitan” in The Week.
Listen to the Enter Helen podcast from New Books Network.
Watch the video for Enter Helen, “Cosmopolitan Editor Redefines the Modern Single Woman,” by HarperCollins.
Watch Brooke talk about researching Helen Gurley Brown’s life in the MSNBC documentary A Refuge For Women’s History
Read Brooke Hauser: Five Secrets I Learned About Helen Gurley Brown From the Smith Archives