ST. JOHN ERVINE
I FIRST had the pleasure of meeting Mr. St. John Ervine when he came to Yale to lecture in 1916. I had read a number of his novels, Mrs. Martin's Man, Alice and Her Family, and other books. He wrote one novel about the War and to please his mother said that he put no swearing into it.
It was a play by St. John Ervine that established the fame and fortune of the Theatre Guild in New York. This organization had high artistic aims and low funds, and its first performances were financial failures.
One day a gentleman walking around New York glanced at a window of Brentano's book shop, and there saw among other books John Ferguson. He remembered that he had met the author in England at some kind of debate, I think, and merely out of curiosity he went in and bought this printed play. There it lay for any manager in the world to use. He took it to the Theatre Guild. They decided to produce it; it was an enormous success. It ran steadily all that spring and through the hot summer and during most of the following season. They were fortunate in having Dudley Digges to act the part of Caesar, but the whole production was admirable, and I don't believe the play could have failed, even if it had been poorly produced and badly acted. It is one of the best plays of the Twentieth Century.
The Theatre Guild followed up this success by another play by Mr. Ervine, Jane Clegg, in which Dudley Digges and Margaret Wycherley took the leading parts. This was again both an artistic and a financial success. An amusing