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Robert E. Sherwood (Robert Emmet Sherwood) Biography

(1896–1955), (Robert Emmet Sherwood), The Road to Rome, Reunion in Vienna, The Petrified Forest

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Seven Against Thebes (Hepta epi Thēbas; Septem contra Thebas) to Sir Walter Scott and Scotland

American dramatist, born in New Rochelle, New York State, educated at Harvard, where he followed George Pierce Baker's course in the history of the theatre. His successful first play, The Road to Rome (1927), shows Hannibal turning away from his march on Rome, an anti-war gesture designed to express Sherwood's disillusion with the international politics which had led to the First World War. Sherwood's most successful period as a playwright was in the 1930s, with Reunion in Vienna (1931), The Petrified Forest (1935), Idiot's Delight (1936, for which he won the first of his four Pulitzer Prizes), Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1938), and There Shall Be No Night (1940). With S. N. Behrman and others, Sherwood was a founder member of the Playwrights' Company (1938), designed to set high standards of writing and production in the contemporary theatre. His play Waterloo Bridge (1930), about an English prostitute who preserves the ideals of an American soldier by refusing to give herself to him, was well received in London, and a cleaned-up version—in which the prostitute becomes a ballerina—was made into a film by Mervyn Leroy in 1940, starring Robert Taylor and Vivien Leigh (with screenplay by Behrman), and later remade as Gaby (1956), directed by Curtis Bernhardt with Leslie Caron as the female lead. Sherwood's pacifism, founded on his First World War disillusionment, informed much of his writing.

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