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William Inge (William Motter Inge) Biography

(1913–73), (William Motter Inge), Star-Times, Farther off from Heaven, Come Back, Little Sheba

American dramatist, born in Independence, Kansas, educated at the University of Kansas and the George Peabody College for Teachers. Inge worked as a general arts critic for the St Louis Star-Times when he met Tennessee Williams, with whose encouragement he wrote his first play, Farther off from Heaven (1947). His second play, Come Back, Little Sheba (1950), was a popular success on Broadway; equally successful were Picnic (1953; Pulitzer Prize), Bus Stop (1955), and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1957). He won an Oscar for the screenplay of his film Splendour in the Grass (1961). His subject was the sexual repression of small-town Midwesterners; but his failure to move away from this dominant concern led to his decreasing popularity from the 1960s onwards and, convinced he had lost his gift, Inge committed suicide at the age of 60. Several of his plays were successfully adapted for the screen: Come Back, Little Sheba (1953) starred Shirley Booth and Burt Lancaster, Picnic (1956) starred William Holden, Rosalind Russell, Kim Novak, and Susan Strasberg, and Bus Stop (1956) provided Marilyn Monroe with one of her most celebrated roles.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Robin’ [Iris Guiver Wilkinson] ‘Hyde Biography to Percy Janes Biography