What follows is one lady’s opinion about what Nora Ephron meant to ladies. For more from my two friends and former colleagues on this topic, check out The Daily Beast. For a trio of exquisite essays on Nora’s love of food, her sense of adventure, and her essential New York-iness, drop everything and go read V.F.’s David Kamp, Todd S. Purdum, and Jim Wolcott.
In 1962, after graduating from Wellesley, Nora Ephron got a job at Newsweek. It is a famous tale at that magazine that Nora had begun her career as a “mail girl” and “clipper,” the duties of which were to carve out relevant news clippings for the editors with a razor blade, under the ink-thwarting protection of some kind of fatigues-like smock. (You can see why a Seven Sisters education was required.) She was never promoted past the position of researcher, despite showing fierce reportorial talent—in The Good Girls Revolt, a wonderful forthcoming book from Lynn Povich about the women of Newsweek, Lynn describes how Nora once came back with a reported file on McGeorge Bundy that was passed around among the magazine’s senior editors “like samizdat, it was so brilliant.” Meanwhile, of the be-smocked clipping, Lynn quotes Nora that “[b]eing a clipper was a horrible job—and to make matters worse, I was good at it.”
Fortunately, for those of us who cherish the work Nora went on to do, Newsweek was not impressed by her razor wit or razor wielding.