In Memoriam: Helen Gurley Brown

Helen Gurley Brown, the legendary longtime editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, has died at the age of 90.


From the moment she entered the publishing world at 40, Brown was a controversial presence. On the advice of her husband, who found some of the love letters she’d written while single, Brown wrote the groundbreaking Sex and the Single Girl. The book, with its frank tips for navigating the worlds of business and romance, was a smash, selling two million copies in just three weeks.

From there she took over at Cosmopolitan and transformed it into a guide for single women, where she became known for her uncompromising message that women can have it all, sex included, without a husband’s help—a stance that paved the way for material girls from Madonna to Carrie Bradshaw. Brown held the post for three decades, and though she stepped down as editor-in-chief in 1997, she kept a pink corner office at the magazine until her death.

In her last years Brown focused on the magazine’s international editions, spreading her message to millions of “fun, fearless females” around the world, and proving, as she once said: “Good girls go to heaven. Bad girls go everywhere.”

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