Submitted on Thursday, 12/9/2021, at 5:02 PM

Applegate, who won a 2007 Pulitzer Prize for her biography of Henry Ward Beecher (class of 1834), spoke to the Forward about the subject of her new book, Madam: The Biography of Polly Adler, Icon of the Jazz Age.

Because the Forward is a prominent Jewish newspaper, reporter Mervyn Rothstein’s interview with Applegate focuses largely on the Jewish identity of Polly Adler, who emigrated alone as a teenager from Eastern Europe and later became “the most famous madam in New York, her houses of ill-repute frequented by the rich and the notable—the politicians, gangsters, businessmen, celebrities, writers and journalists who ran New York in what was to become known as the Roaring Twenties.”

Applegate explains why and how Adler became successful in the sex trade, and comments on what her story says about American life and the immigrant experience.