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Maxwell Anderson Biography

(1888–1959), Measure, You Who Have Dreams, White Desert, World, What Price Glory?, Saturday's Children

verse war comedy world

American playwright, born in Atlantic, Pennsylvania, brought up in North Dakota, educated at Stanford University. In 1918 he moved to New York where he worked on various journals and helped found Measure, a magazine of verse. His own collection of poems, You Who Have Dreams, appeared in 1925. His first play, the verse tragedy White Desert (1923), was drawn from childhood memories and told the story of damaged lives in North Dakota. Thereafter, he frequently co-operated with either Laurence Stallings, the drama critic of the World, or Harold Hickerson, to produce a series of dramas based on social issues in the USA. These included the immensely successful war play What Price Glory? (1924); a prose comedy about marriage, Saturday's Children (1927); Gods of the Lightning (1928), and Winterset (1935), both based on the Sacco and Vanzetti case. As well as serious works he demonstrated his skills for comedy in such works as Both Your Houses (1933; Pulitzer Prize), a witty satire about political corruption; High Tor (1936) and The Star Wagon (1937), both comic satires about materialism; and the musical comedy Knickerbocker Holiday (1938), a collaboration with Kurt Weill. Anderson specialized in verse-drama, using history to illuminate contemporary issues in Elizabeth the Queen (1930), about a love affair between Elizabeth I and Lord Essex; and in Night Over Taos (1932), Mary of Scotland (1933), Valley Forge (1934), and The Masque of Kings (1937). He was instrumental in establishing the Playwright's Company in 1938. During the Second World War he wrote both anti-fascist plays and accounts of the lives of ordinary soldiers, with Key Largo (1939), about an American fighting in the Spanish Civil War, Candle in the Wind (1941), The Eve of St Mark (1942), and Storm Operation (1944). He continued to work in a variety of forms and subjects, producing such works as Joan of Lorraine (1946), about Joan of Arc; Anne of a Thousand Days (1948), a stylized treatment of Anne Boleyn; and the dramatization of Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country, entitled Lost in the Stars (1948). Other works include Off Broadway (1947), a collection of essays on playwriting; Barefoot in Athens (1951), about Socrates; and The Bad Seed (1954), an adaptation of a novel by William March about an evil child.

Poul Anderson (Poul William Anderson) Biography - (1926–2001), (Poul William Anderson), Brain Wave, Tau Zero, The High Crusade, Harvest of Stars [next] [back] Jessica Anderson Biography - (1925– ), An Ordinary Lunacy, The Last Man's Head, The Commandant

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