William Inge

Essays and Reminiscences on the Plays and the Man


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About the Book

William Inge’s popular plays of the 1950s received Tony nominations (Bus Stop [1956], and Dark at the Top of the Stairs [1958]) and won a Pulitzer Prize (Picnic [1953]). As a screenwriter, he won an Academy Award (Splendor in the Grass [1961]). Yet Inge’s career ended in perceived failure, depression and finally suicide. These previously unpublished essays take a fresh look at some of his most popular work, as well as his less well-known later plays. Inge’s work was often ahead of its time, and foreshadowed the influence of popular media and advertising, the sexual revolution and the women’s movement. The essays give context for Inge’s work within twentieth-century American drama, and attest to his exceptional talent. Included are reminiscences which reveal the playwright’s charm and generosity, and shed light on how a brilliant, troubled man eventually took his own life.

About the Author(s)

Jackson R. Bryer is a professor emeritus of English at the University of Maryland.
Mary C. Hartig is an adjunct professor of English at Montgomery College, Rockville, Maryland.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Jackson R. Bryer and Mary C. Hartig
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 300
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7647-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1632-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Editors’ Note 8
Chronology 10
Critical Essays
American Theater in the 1950s and Inge’s Plays (Albert Wertheim) 13
The ­Inside-Outsider (Robert Patrick) 25
Come Back, Little Sheba and Mass Culture (Jane Courant) 30
The Two Texts of Picnic (David Richman) 55
Picnic, Summer Brave, and the Peace of Staying (Kerk Fisher) 73
Robert Brustein’s “Men-Taming Women of William Inge”: A ­Re-Examination (Ralph F. Voss) 96
Structures of Violence: Gender Roles in Inge’s Plays (Linda ­Wagner-Martin) 120
Inge and the Empty Stage (Susan Koprince) 127
Life with Father in Four Inge Plays (Robert A. Martin) 137
“Going Next Door”: Placing Inge (Barry Gross) 152
Another Kansan in the Land of Oz: Inge as Screenwriter (Thomas P. Adler) 162
Build-Up to Natural Affection (R. Baird Shuman) 173
Unnatural Affection: Sons and Mothers (Therese Jones) 185
Memories of Happier Times (Helene Inge Connell) 201
Loving Memories of a Kindly Uncle (Luther C. Inge) 207
Billy (Jeanne Seymour Mitcham) 214
My Teacher (William Stuckey) 218
Shadows on Success (Audrey Wood) 221
Hampton Sundays (Horton Foote) 223
Inward Bound (Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee) 226
Counted Among His Friends (Robert Anderson) 229
Directing Picnic (Joshua Logan) 231
Designing Picnic (Jo Mielziner) 235
On the Verge (N. Richard Nash) 237
What Remains Behind (Richard H. Goldstone) 240
A Softness That Never Toughened (William Gibson) 245
Driving Inge (John Connolly) 248
That Was Bill (Robert Whitehead) 255
Gestures of Love, Gestures of Despair (Jo Ann Mahan Kirchmaier) 259
Waiting for Inge (Jack B. Wright) 263
The Stairs to Darkness (Philip Clarkson) 266
He Knew the Poetry of Life (Jack Garfein) 273
Notes on Contributors 281
Index 287