Customer Service available Mon - Fri 9am to 9pm EST Sat & Sun 1pm to 8pm EST
Maxwell Anderson was born in Atlantic, Pennsylvania, on December 15, 1888. His father worked as a traveling minister, and thus his schooling was split between several different states. He graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1911 and completed his master's degree at Stanford three years later. He taught there briefly, then worked as a journalist and editorial writer for several newspapers and magazines. His first play, White Desert, was a contemporary verse tragedy that opened in 1923 to little response. Retooling his approach to establish himself, he scored a hit by co-writing the WWI comedy What Price Glory in 1924 and returned to drama for another success, 1927's Saturday's Children. Later, he returned to verse dramas with his historical plays, 1930's Elizabeth the Queen and 1933's Mary of Scotland. He won the Pulitzer Prize for 1933's Both Your Houses, and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for the highly successful and acclaimed contemporary tragedy Winterset, based on the Sacco and Vanzetti trial. He repeated the latter feat in 1936 with High Tor. In 1938, Anderson teamed up with the recently emigrated composer Kurt Weill, who'd fled to New York in the face of Nazi persecution, and sought out the city's top playwrights in search of collaborators. Their first effort was Knickerbocker Holiday, a historical musical set in the time when New York was still the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. Anderson wrote the book and lyrics, and although the play was a decent-sized success, its "September Song" proved to have a life far beyond its source, thanks in part to a recording by Frank Sinatra. In 1939, Anderson and Weill began work on another musical, to be titled Ulysses Africanus; however, they never found a black actor suited to the lead role, and the show was never completed. Anderson and Weill remained on good terms, but it took them quite some time to find another project to work on together; Weill originally wanted Anderson to write lyrics for the play that became Street Scene, but Anderson, unconvinced of his talent as a lyricist, let the job go to poet Langston Hughes. In the meantime, Weill completed several successful Broadway musicals, while Anderson wrote plays like Key Largo (1939), The Eve of St. Mark (1942), and Joan of Lorraine (1946), among others. Anderson and Weill collaborated one final time in 1949 on Lost in the Stars, a musical based on Alan Paton's novel Cry, the Beloved Country, which examined racial tensions in South Africa. They adapted some of the songs that had been written for the unfinished Ulysses Africanus project, and the show opened in late 1949 to generally positive reviews. Weill died of a heart attack in April 1950. Anderson remained a prolific playwright during the '50s, with highlights including 1951's Barefoot in Athens and 1954's Bad Seed. He died in Stamford, Connecticut, on February 28, 1956, and was buried in Meadville, Pennsylvania, near his birthplace.
Samuel French Titles by Maxwell Anderson
- Top 5 Things to Know When Performing a One Woman Show
- Top 8 Stage Adaptations To Obsess Over
- A Couple of Notes: Behind the Scenes with Samuel French’s Music Supervisor
- Beyond the Ingénue: Top 20 Roles for Leading Ladies
- Shining The Light: How One Teacher Brought The Ghostlight Project To His High School
Samuel French, Inc.
235 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
Toll Free: (866) 598-8449
Local: (212) 206-8990
Fax: (212) 206-1429
Follow us on