Anderson, Maxwell

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Anderson, Maxwell

Maxwell Anderson, 1888–1959, American dramatist, b. Atlantic, Pa., grad. Univ. of North Dakota, 1911. His plays, many of which are written in verse, usually concern social and moral problems. Anderson was a journalist until the successful production in 1924 of What Price Glory?, a war drama written with Laurence Stallings. Winterset (1935), based on the Sacco-Vanzetti case, is probably Anderson's most successful verse tragedy. He wrote many historical dramas including Elizabeth the Queen (1930), Mary of Scotland (1933), Valley Forge (1934), Joan of Lorraine (1947), Anne of the Thousand Days (1948), and Barefoot in Athens (1951). Among his other plays are Both Your Houses (1933), High Tor (1937), The Star Wagon (1937), Key Largo (1939), and The Eve of St. Mark (1942). He also wrote the librettos for Kurt Weill's Knickerbocker Holiday (1938) and Lost in the Stars (1940). A collection of his poetry, Notes on a Dream, was published in 1972.

His eldest son, Quentin Anderson, 1914–2003, b. Minnewauken, N.Dak., was a literary critic, cultural historian, and Columbia Univ. professor (1939–81). Educated at Columbia (B.A., 1937; Ph. D., 1953) and Harvard (M.A., 1945), he was an expert on 19th-century American literature and wrote such books as The American Henry James (1957), The Imperial Self (1971), and Making Americans (1992).

See biography by A. S. Shivers (1982); bibliography by M. Cox (1958, repr. 1974).

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