From the 1920s through the 1950s Maxwell Anderson was one of the most important playwrights in America. His thirty-three produced plays make him a leader among these playwrights of America's most creative era in the theater, and a number of his plays have shown a lasting vitality and importance. What Price Glory (1924) dramatized the disillusionment and horror of World War I . With Elizabeth the Queen (1929), Winterset (1935), and High Tor (1936), Anderson revived poetic drama in the modern theater. His versatility as a playwright was further reflected in the satire Both Your Houses (1933), the historical parable Joan of Lorraine (1946), and the musical play Lost in the Stars (1949).
This edition of Anderson's letters spans his adult life -- from 1912, shortly after he graduated from the University of North Dakota, to 1958, just before his death. Arranged chronologically, the letters reveal in full and intimate detail the development of his career, his methods of work, his relationships with theater people, his conceptions of himself as a playwright and of the nature of the theater, and his ideas about his plays, all of which focused on an inner moral struggle. Every aspect of his work and personality emerges in these letters, which serve as an autobiography in the rough. Each letter is fully annotated, permitting the reader to become a party to the correspondence. The editor has provided an informative introduction to the letters and also a substantial chronology of Anderson's life that incorporates the first complete bibliography of his plays, poems, essays, fiction, and screenplays. An appendix includes Anderson's previously unpublished statements about his life and his plays.
Dramatist in America, the first edition of letters by a major American playwright, takes on added importance for its representative quality. It reveals the cultural and theatrical conditions under which a vital generation of playwrights created this country's finest period in the drama.