Robert Sherwood

Definition

Theater

  • (1896 - 1955) US playwright, whose works emphasize therole of personal sacrifice in both peace and war. Sherwood himselfhad dropped out of Harvard in 1917 to enlist in the Canadian BlackWatch Battalion, with which he served in France. After his dischargehe worked as the drama editor of Vanity Fair (1919 - 20),becoming a member of the famous Algonquin Round Table of Wits. In1938 he was cofounder with Maxwell Anderson and others ofthe Playwrights' Company.

    Sherwood's first successful play was The Road to Rome(1927), an anti-war satire about Hannibal's crossing of the Alps.Subsequent works included Reunion in Vienna (1931), starringthe Lunts, and the tragedy The Petrified Forest(1935), starring Humphrey Bogart. In 1936 he won a Pulitzer Prizefor Idiot's Delight, in which the Lunts appeared as US actorsworking in Europe who decide to become social activists. He also wonPulitzer Prizes for Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1938) and ThereShall Be No Night (1940), in which a group of Finnish pacifistsresolve to take up arms against the Soviet invaders. When the playmoved to London in 1943 it had to be reset in Greece, as the SovietUnion had become an ally.

    During World War II Sherwood served as President FranklinD. Roosevelt's speech writer and subsequently as head of the overseasbranch of the Office of War Information. In 1946 he scripted the filmThe Best Years of Our Lives, which won eight Academy Awards,including Best Screenplay. A fourth Pulitzer Prize came in 1949 forhis book Roosevelt and Hopkins: an Intimate History.

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