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

By Laurence G. Avery; Maxwell Anderson | Go to book overview

151. TO THE NEW YORK NEWSPAPER AND MAGAZINE THEATER CRITICS 1

[ New City]
[ September 15, 1946]

Dear Mr. _____

The tickets enclosed are not for the opening night of Joan of Lorraine but for some weeks later in the run, and I write this letter to explain that the Playwrights' Company has made this change from the usual schedule at my request. It is my conviction that a small group of the theatre critics of New York have become, without intention perhaps, but no less absolutely, a board of censors which a play must pass to achieve a run. And since New York is the only play producing center for the country these same critics constitute a censorship board for the theatre of the United States. There was a time, not so long ago, when a play might, and sometimes did, live down a set of adverse notices and find an audience, but the costs of production and operation are currently so high that this has become impossible. Plays now live or die by your verdict and that of your fellow reviewers. And since it seems to be the opinion of a majority of the critics' circle that it is a critic's duty to destroy whatever play he does not like, and destroy, if possible, the reputation of the playwright along with his play, since the circle has the whole power of the metropolitan press behind it and can operate in security, with no chance of adequate discussion or reply, any play, whatever its merit or demerit, can be blasted off the stage, never to be revived, if a few of the men who occupy positions similar to your own happen to find it unamusing.

This is not a democratic process. Under these conditions the public never gets a chance to discover whether or not a play is worth seeing. Plays are struck down on the opening night, or blown up on the opening night, with very slight consideration but complete finality. The public, reading tens of thousands of words of praise or dispraise, naturally attends or stays away as advised by the newspapers, and hits and failures are so arrived at. How and how much the uncensored judgment of the public would differ from that of the critics is a matter of opinion. My own observation makes me certain that the public would accept many more plays, many more playwrights, and a far wider range of subjects, if it were allowed to choose for itself. It would

-209-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • Maxwell Anderson: A Chronology xxix
  • Code to Location of Letters lxxii
  • List of Letters lxxiv
  • Part I Becoming a Playwright 1912-1925 1
  • I. to John M. Gillette1 3
  • 2. to Henry Cowell1 4
  • 3.To Mrs. Marguerite Wilkinson1 4
  • 3.To Mrs. Marguerite Wilkinson1 4
  • 3.To Mrs. Marguerite Wilkinson1 5
  • 3.To Mrs. Marguerite Wilkinson1 5
  • 3.To Mrs. Marguerite Wilkinson1 6
  • 3.To Mrs. Marguerite Wilkinson1 6
  • 7. to Upton Sinclair 9
  • 7. to Upton Sinclair 9
  • 7. to Upton Sinclair 9
  • 8. to the Editor, Dial 12
  • 9. to Upton Sinclair 13
  • 10. to Upton Sinclair 13
  • 10. to Upton Sinclair 14
  • 10. to Upton Sinclair 14
  • 10. to Upton Sinclair 15
  • 12. to Van Wyck Brooks1 16
  • 13. to Harold Monro1 16
  • 13. to Harold Monro1 17
  • 13. to Harold Monro1 17
  • 13. to Harold Monro1 18
  • 13. to Harold Monro1 18
  • 13. to Harold Monro1 18
  • 16. to William Stanley Braithwaite1 19
  • 17. to Heywood Broun1 19
  • 17. to Heywood Broun1 20
  • 17. to Heywood Broun1 20
  • 17. to Heywood Broun1 21
  • 17. to Heywood Broun1 21
  • 17. to Heywood Broun1 22
  • 17. to Heywood Broun1 22
  • 17. to Heywood Broun1 22
  • 17. to Heywood Broun1 23
  • 17. to Heywood Broun1 23
  • 17. to Heywood Broun1 23
  • 17. to Heywood Broun1 24
  • 17. to Heywood Broun1 24
  • 17. to Heywood Broun1 25
  • 17. to Heywood Broun1 25
  • 17. to Heywood Broun1 25
  • Part II Achievement and Recognition 1926-1940 27
  • 25. to Arthur Hobson Quinn1 29
  • 26. to Barrett H. Clark 30
  • 26. to Barrett H. Clark 31
  • 26. to Barrett H. Clark 31
  • 26. to Barrett H. Clark 32
  • 26. to Barrett H. Clark 32
  • 26. to Barrett H. Clark 32
  • 26. to Barrett H. Clark 32
  • 26. to Barrett H. Clark 33
  • 26. to Barrett H. Clark 33
  • 26. to Barrett H. Clark 34
  • 31. to Barrett H. Clark 35
  • 32. to Theresa Helburn 35
  • 32. to Theresa Helburn 36
  • 32. to Theresa Helburn 36
  • 32. to Theresa Helburn 36
  • 34. to Gertrude Anthony (anderson) 37
  • 35. to Barrett H. Clark 38
  • 36. to Lela Chambers 38
  • 36. to Lela Chambers 39
  • 36. to Lela Chambers 39
  • 36. to Lela Chambers 40
  • 36. to Lela Chambers 41
  • 36. to Lela Chambers 41
  • 39. to George Middleton1 42
  • 40. to George Middleton 42
  • 40. to George Middleton 42
  • 41. to Walter Prichard Eaton1 43
  • 42. to George Middleton 43
  • 42. to George Middleton 44
  • 42. to George Middleton 44
  • 42. to George Middleton 44
  • 44. to Walter Prichard Eaton 45
  • 45. to Walter Prichard Eaton 45
  • 45. to Walter Prichard Eaton 46
  • 45. to Walter Prichard Eaton 46
  • 45. to Walter Prichard Eaton 47
  • 45. to Walter Prichard Eaton 47
  • 45. to Walter Prichard Eaton 47
  • 48. to Mrs. Harriet Keehn1 48
  • 49. to Lawrence Langner1 48
  • 49. to Lawrence Langner1 49
  • 49. to Lawrence Langner1 53
  • 51. to S. N. Behrman. 54
  • 52. to Margery Bailey 54
  • 52. to Margery Bailey 55
  • 53. to Margery Bailey 56
  • 53. to Margery Bailey 56
  • 54. to Margery Bailey 57
  • 54. to Margery Bailey 58
  • 54. to Margery Bailey 59
  • 54. to Margery Bailey 60
  • 54. to Margery Bailey 60
  • 54. to Margery Bailey 62
  • 54. to Margery Bailey 62
  • 54. to Margery Bailey 63
  • 58. to Ray Lyman Wilbur1 64
  • 59. to John F. Wharton 66
  • 59. to John F. Wharton 67
  • 59. to John F. Wharton 67
  • 59. to John F. Wharton 68
  • 59. to John F. Wharton 68
  • 59. to John F. Wharton 69
  • 62. to Robert E. Sherwood 70
  • 63. to Mrs. F. Durand Taylor1 71
  • 64. to John F. Wharton 72
  • 64. to John F. Wharton 72
  • 65. to John F. Wharton 73
  • 66. to Elmer Rice 74
  • 67. to Mrs. F. Durand Taylor 76
  • 68. to Gilmor Brown1 77
  • 69. to Mrs. Florence B. Hult1 78
  • 70. to Helen Deutsch1 79
  • 71. to Laurence Moore1 80
  • 71. to Laurence Moore1 80
  • 71. to Laurence Moore1 81
  • 71. to Laurence Moore1 81
  • 71. to Laurence Moore1 81
  • 71. to Laurence Moore1 82
  • 74. to Paul Muni 83
  • 75. to Marston Balch1 83
  • 75. to Marston Balch1 84
  • 75. to Marston Balch1 84
  • 75. to Marston Balch1 86
  • 75. to Marston Balch1 86
  • 75. to Marston Balch1 86
  • 78. to Victor Samrock1 87
  • 79. to Sidney Howard 87
  • 79. to Sidney Howard 89
  • 79. to Sidney Howard 89
  • 79. to Sidney Howard 90
  • 79. to Sidney Howard 91
  • 79. to Sidney Howard 92
  • 79. to Sidney Howard 92
  • 79. to Sidney Howard 93
  • 79. to Sidney Howard 93
  • 79. to Sidney Howard 94
  • 86. to Polly Howard 95
  • 86. to Polly Howard 95
  • 86. to Polly Howard 96
  • 86. to Polly Howard 96
  • 86. to Polly Howard 97
  • 86. to Polly Howard 97
  • 86. to Polly Howard 98
  • 86. to Polly Howard 98
  • 86. to Polly Howard 99
  • 86. to Polly Howard 99
  • 86. to Polly Howard 100
  • 86. to Polly Howard 100
  • 86. to Polly Howard 101
  • 86. to Polly Howard 101
  • 86. to Polly Howard 102
  • 86. to Polly Howard 102
  • 86. to Polly Howard 105
  • 94. to S. N. Behrman 106
  • Part III: Achievement and Controversy 1941-1953 107
  • 95. to Helen Hayes1 109
  • 96. to Donald Ogden Stewart1 110
  • 97. to George Middleton 110
  • 97. to George Middleton 111
  • 97. to George Middleton 111
  • 97. to George Middleton 112
  • 97. to George Middleton 112
  • 97. to George Middleton 112
  • 100. to the Playwrights' Company 113
  • 101. to Louis Finkelstein1 114
  • 101. to Louis Finkelstein1 114
  • 101. to Louis Finkelstein1 115
  • 101. to Louis Finkelstein1 115
  • 101. to Louis Finkelstein1 116
  • 101. to Louis Finkelstein1 116
  • 104. to Brooks Atkinson 117
  • 105. to Lela Chambers 118
  • 106. to Avery Chambers1 119
  • 107. to Edwin P. Parker, Jr.1 120
  • 108. to Russel Crouse and Clifton Fadiman1 120
  • 109. to Lela and Dan Chambers 122
  • 110. to Lee Norvelle1 122
  • 110. to Lee Norvelle1 124
  • 113. to Lela and Dan Chambers 127
  • 114. to Edwin P. Parker Jr. 127
  • 114. to Edwin P. Parker Jr. 128
  • 114. to Edwin P. Parker Jr. 128
  • 114. to Edwin P. Parker Jr. 129
  • 114. to Edwin P. Parker Jr. 129
  • 114. to Edwin P. Parker Jr. 130
  • 114. to Edwin P. Parker Jr. 131
  • 114. to Edwin P. Parker Jr. 139
  • 114. to Edwin P. Parker Jr. 140
  • 114. to Edwin P. Parker Jr. 143
  • 114. to Edwin P. Parker Jr. 144
  • 114. to Edwin P. Parker Jr. 145
  • 120. to Gertrude Anderson 152
  • 121. to Gertrude Anderson 156
  • 122. to Hesper Anderson 157
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 158
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 165
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 166
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 177
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 179
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 180
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 180
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 181
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 181
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 182
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 182
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 184
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 184
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 185
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 185
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 186
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 186
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 186
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 187
  • 123. to Gertrude Anderson 187
  • 133. to Lela and Dan Chambers 188
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 189
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 190
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 190
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 192
  • 137. to Joseph Wood Krutch1 193
  • 136. to the Playwrights' Company 194
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 194
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 195
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 195
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 196
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 196
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 197
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 197
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 198
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 198
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 199
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 199
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 201
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 202
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 202
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 202
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 203
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 204
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 204
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 205
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 205
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 206
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 206
  • 134. to Dwight D. Eisenhower 206
  • 149. to Arthur S. Lyons 207
  • 150. to S. N. Behrman 208
  • 150. to S. N. Behrman 208
  • 151. to the New York Newspaper and Magazine Theater Critics1 209
  • 152. to E. B. White1 213
  • 152. to E. B. White1 214
  • 153. to E. B. White 215
  • 154. to Archer Milton Huntington 215
  • 154. to Archer Milton Huntington 216
  • 154. to Archer Milton Huntington 216
  • 154. to Archer Milton Huntington 217
  • 154. to Archer Milton Huntington 217
  • 154. to Archer Milton Huntington 218
  • 154. to Archer Milton Huntington 218
  • 154. to Archer Milton Huntington 220
  • 154. to Archer Milton Huntington 221
  • 154. to Archer Milton Huntington 222
  • 159. to the Editor, Atlantic Monthly1 224
  • 160. to the Newspaper Drama Critics of New York1 225
  • 161. to Brooks Atkinson 227
  • 161. to Brooks Atkinson 228
  • 161. to Brooks Atkinson 229
  • 161. to Brooks Atkinson 229
  • 161. to Brooks Atkinson 230
  • 161. to Brooks Atkinson 230
  • 161. to Brooks Atkinson 231
  • 161. to Brooks Atkinson 231
  • 161. to Brooks Atkinson 232
  • 161. to Brooks Atkinson 232
  • 161. to Brooks Atkinson 238
  • 167. to Samuel J. Silverman1 240
  • 168. to John Arthur Chapman1 241
  • 169. to Archer Milton Huntington 241
  • 169. to Archer Milton Huntington 242
  • 169. to Archer Milton Huntington 242
  • 169. to Archer Milton Huntington 243
  • 169. to Archer Milton Huntington 243
  • 169. to Archer Milton Huntington 243
  • 172. to Brooks Atkinson 244
  • 173. to John F. Wharton 245
  • 174. to the Playwrights' Company 245
  • 174. to the Playwrights' Company 246
  • 174. to the Playwrights' Company 246
  • 174. to the Playwrights' Company 247
  • 174. to the Playwrights' Company 248
  • 174. to the Playwrights' Company 248
  • 174. to the Playwrights' Company 249
  • 174. to the Playwrights' Company 249
  • 174. to the Playwrights' Company 250
  • 174. to the Playwrights' Company 251
  • 174. to the Playwrights' Company 251
  • 174. to the Playwrights' Company 252
  • 174. to the Playwrights' Company 252
  • 174. to the Playwrights' Company 252
  • 181. to Stephen Sondheim1 253
  • 182. to John F. Wharton 253
  • 182. to John F. Wharton 254
  • 182. to John F. Wharton 254
  • 182. to John F. Wharton 256
  • 182. to John F. Wharton 257
  • 182. to John F. Wharton 259
  • 185. to Elmer Rice 260
  • 186. to Archer Milton Huntington 260
  • 186. to Archer Milton Huntington 261
  • 186. to Archer Milton Huntington 261
  • 186. to Archer Milton Huntington 262
  • 188. to Lela Chambers 263
  • Part IV Achievement and Peace - 1954-1958 265
  • 189. to Robert E. Sherwood 267
  • 190. to John F. Wharton 268
  • 191.To Lela Chambers 268
  • 191.To Lela Chambers 268
  • 191.To Lela Chambers 269
  • 192. to Lotte Lenya Weill1 270
  • 193. to Victor Samrock 271
  • 193. to Victor Samrock 272
  • 194. to Victor Samrock 273
  • 195. to John F. Wharton 274
  • 196. to Elmer Rice 274
  • 196. to Elmer Rice 275
  • 196. to Elmer Rice 275
  • 196. to Elmer Rice 276
  • 196. to Elmer Rice 276
  • 196. to Elmer Rice 276
  • 199. to Lela Chambers 277
  • 200. to the Playwrights' Company 278
  • 200. to the Playwrights' Company 279
  • 200. to the Playwrights' Company 279
  • 200. to the Playwrights' Company 279
  • 200. to the Playwrights' Company 280
  • 200. to the Playwrights' Company 281
  • 200. to the Playwrights' Company 281
  • 200. to the Playwrights' Company 281
  • 204. to Enid Bagnold 282
  • 205. to Elmer Rice 283
  • 206. to Victor Samrock 283
  • 206. to Victor Samrock 284
  • 206. to Victor Samrock 284
  • 206. to Victor Samrock 285
  • 206. to Victor Samrock 285
  • 206. to Victor Samrock 285
  • 206. to Victor Samrock 286
  • 206. to Victor Samrock 286
  • 210. to Mabel Driscoll Bailey1 287
  • 211. to Paul Green 287
  • 211. to Paul Green 288
  • 211. to Paul Green 288
  • 211. to Paul Green 290
  • Appendix I 293
  • Appendix II 319
  • Appendix III 322
  • Appendix IV 330
  • Index 345
  • The Author 367
  • The Book 367
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