Sidney Howard and Clare Eames

American Theater’s Perfect Couple of the 1920s

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About the Book

In the 1920s, the playwright Sidney Howard and his wife, actress Clare Eames, were at the heart of the movement to change the American theater from a commercial enterprise to one with art at its center. Sidney gained fame writing They Knew What They Wanted (which won the Pulitzer Prize) in 1924. A dramatist for the Theatre Guild, he wrote Ned McCobb’s Daughter and The Silver Cord and became the voice of American theater’s fight against censorship. Energetic and ambitious Clare played some of the greatest dramatic roles for women, including Queen Elizabeth, Lady MacBeth, and Hedda Gabler. For a time, Sidney and Clare were an ideal couple, collaborating on dramas and drawing admirers in both England and America.
This dual biography illuminates the growth of the American art theater, gives intimate details into the work of the couple, and reveals a glamorous doomed romance. The letters interspersed throughout the text detail the couple’s thoughts on the artistic process, acting, writing, and the social and theatrical circles in which they moved. Including many letters and reviews from the era, this study describes Sidney and Clare’s relationships, careers, and the dramatic disintegration of their marriage, set against the background of one of the most artistically fertile periods of American drama.

About the Author(s)

Writer and reviewer Arthur Gewirtz is Associate Professor of English emeritus at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. He lives in New York City.

Bibliographic Details

Arthur Gewirtz
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 295
Bibliographic Info: photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2004
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1751-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi

Preface      1

Introduction      5

1. Clare      9

2. Annus Mirabilis 1924: Clare      23

3. Annus Mirabilis 1924: Sidney      55

4. Sidney      65

5. Clare and Sidney      91

6. Clare in Hollywood: An Interlude      119

7. Consequences      149

8. Theatre Guild Year      176

9. Smash!      207

10. Divorce and Death      242

Epilogue      274

Bibliography      283

Index      285

Book Reviews & Awards

Finalist 2004 George Freedley Memorial Award—Theatre Library Association
“including excerpts from letters the couple wrote to one another and their friends and colleagues…follows their early theatrical collaborations, examines their work with the Theatre Guild, and describes their ultimately doomed romance”—Reference & Research Book News.