By the time John Patrick wrote his Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Teahouse of the August Moon, based on Vern Sneider’s 1951 novel, he was well established as a playwright and screenwriter. His career as a dramatic author was launched with Hell Freezes Over (pr. 1935). Patrick’s next produced play, The Willow and I (pr. 1942, pb. 1943), was much admired but was not very popular. After serving as an ambulance driver with a British unit in Egypt and Syria, he drew from his military experiences to produce, in 1945, The Hasty Heart (pr., pb. 1945), a character drama involving a group of soldiers hospitalized behind the front lines. Two years later, Patrick produced a historical drama, The Story of Mary Surratt (pr., pb. 1947), which portrayed movingly the vindication of a Mrs. Surratt, who had purportedly taken part in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and was hanged before her innocence could be established. Moving to other dramatic genres, Patrick produced two light comedies: The Curious Savage (pr. 1950), about an eccentric widow who hopes to help people realize foolish dreams by investing her wealth in a Happiness Fund; and Lo and Behold! (pr. 1951), which portrays in a fantastic manner the adventures of a Nobel Prize winner who deliberately overeats and consequently dies, only to find himself plagued by a variety of ghosts in the afterworld.
Patrick returned to a military setting in...
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