Dramatist in America: Letters of Maxwell Anderson, 1912-1958

By Laurence G. Avery; Maxwell Anderson | Go to book overview
Australian nurse Thomasina Grey, making her less disillusioned and less promiscuous in her relationship with the British Captain Sutton. But Surles had referred the question of nurse Grey to Robert Sherwood of the Office of War Information, who would check with British and Australian authorities to see whether they would be offended by the play ( Surles to Anderson, December 6, 1943; W). Anderson was in Baltimore, where Storm Operation was beginning its try-out run at the Maryland Theater. His agreement with the War Department (see no. 130, n. 1) compelled him to revise the play as Surles indicated.

132. TO KATHARINE S. WHITE 1

[New City]
March 17, 1944

Dear Mrs. White:

Your letter waited for me at the office and I didn't get it till yesterday. I feel very apologetic for having put you through all this. My information about Fish was small but vague, and I certainly should have looked up my facts before bursting into dithyrambs. It's a lot more difficult to revise than to write a first draft. Whether I can rearrange the poem to fit the facts without taking all the edge off it, I don't know. It might be very funny to have a footnote to every line and I'm inclined to think that many would be necessary to clear matters up. I hope I won't have to give the whole thing up but a political document should be black and white and there's nothing clear about Mr. Fish's position in space or politics.

I want to thank you personally for the way you have gone about this matter. I think you must be the conscience of the New Yorker. 2

Sincerely Maxwell Anderson

1.
Mrs. White, wife of E. B. White and collaborator with him on several books, was an editor of the New Yorker. During the 1944 elections Anderson headed a committee in his congressional district to defeat Hamilton Fish for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives, and about March 1 he had sent a verse satire on Fish to Mrs. White. Her reply ( March 7, 1944; T) said she wanted to use the poem if Anderson could revise it to reflect the complications that had resulted from the redrawing of New York congressional districts, complications (mostly geographical) that she explained at length.
2.
The poem as revised was published as "Mr. Fish Crosses the River," New Yorker 20 ( May 13, 1944): 28.

-187-

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