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Ben Hecht Biography

(1894–1964), Chicago Literary Times, fin de siècle, The Front Page, Twentieth Century, His Girl Friday

American novelist and dramatist, born in New York and brought up in Wisconsin. Hecht eventually settled into a bohemian orthodoxy in the literary world of Chicago after the First World War where he edited the Chicago Literary Times (19234), a little magazine that espoused a fin de siècle aestheticism in a spirit of modernist iconoclasm. He wrote numerous plays of which the best known are two gritty comedies written in collaboration with Charles MacArthur, The Front Page (1928) and Twentieth Century (1932), which was adapted for cinema by Howard Hawks in 1934. The Front Page deals with Chicago newsmen and the duplicitous manœuvres of an editor who will go to any lengths to prevent a young reporter, who has just scooped a story, escaping to marriage and New York. Set in the newsroom of the paper, The Front Page is the precursor of contemporary newspaper television serials, and has been made into a film several times: by Lewis Milestone in 1931, by Howard Hawks under the title His Girl Friday in 1940, and by Billy Wilder in 1974. Hecht's autobiography A Child of the Century appeared in 1954.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: William Hart-Smith Biography to Sir John [Frederick William] Herschel Biography