Maxwell Anderson life and biography

Maxwell Anderson picture, image, poster

Maxwell Anderson biography

Date of birth : 1888-12-15
Date of death : 1959-02-28
Birthplace : Atlantic, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Famous Figures
Last modified : 2011-05-14
Credited as : Playwright and journalist, Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Both Your Houses 1933

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James Maxwell Anderson was an American playwright, author, poet, journalist and lyricist.

Anderson became a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Bulletin, then moved to New York, where he wrote editorials for The New Republic, The New York Globe, and the New York World. In 1921, he founded Measure, a magazine devoted to verse. He wrote his first play, White Desert, in 1923, which ran only twelve performances, but was well-reviewed by the book reviewer for the New York World, Laurence Stallings, who collaborated with him on his next play What Price Glory?, which was successfully produced in 1924 in New York City. Afterwards he resigned from the World, launching his career as a dramatist.

His plays are in widely varying styles, and Anderson was one of the few modern playwrights to make extensive use of blank verse. Some of these were adapted as movies, and Anderson wrote the screenplays of other authors' plays and novels — Death Takes a Holiday, All Quiet on the Western Front — in addition to books of poetry and essays. The only one of his plays that he himself adapted to the screen was Joan of Lorraine, which became the film Joan of Arc (1948) starring Ingrid Bergman, with a screenplay by Anderson and Andrew Solt. Anderson was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1933 for his political drama Both Your Houses, and twice received the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, for Winterset, and High Tor.

He enjoyed great commercial success with a series of plays set during the reign of the Tudor family, who ruled England, Wales and Ireland from 1485 until 1603. One play in particular - Anne of the Thousand Days — the story of Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn — was a hit on the stage in 1948, but did not reach movie screens for twenty-one years. It opened on Broadway starring Rex Harrison and Joyce Redman, and, in 1969 became an Oscar-winning movie with Richard Burton and Geneviève Bujold. Margaret Furse won an Oscar for the film's costume designs.

Another of his Tudor plays, Elizabeth the Queen, was adapted as The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), starring the legendary actress Bette Davis and Errol Flynn. Still another of his plays involving Elizabeth I, Mary of Scotland (1936), was turned into a 1936 film, starring Katharine Hepburn as Mary, Queen of Scots, Fredric March as the Earl of Bothwell, and Florence Eldridge as Elizabeth. The play had been a hit on Broadway starring Helen Hayes in the title role.

His play, Wingless Victory, was written in verse and was premiered in 1936 by actress Katharine Cornell, who starred in the lead role. It received mixed reviews.

Wrote plays:

What Price Glory? (1924, with Laurence Stallings)
Elizabeth the Queen (1930)
Mary of Scotland (1933)
Winterset (1935)
Knickerbocker Holiday (1938, with composer Kurt Weill)
Key Largo (1939)
Anne of the Thousand Days (1948)
Lost in the Stars (1949, with composer Kurt Weill)

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