Sidney Howard Biography

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(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Sidney Coe Howard was the son of John Lawrence Howard and Helen Louise Coe. His paternal grandfather, born of English parents, had emigrated from Antrim, Ireland, in 1848 and had settled in Philadelphia. After attending public schools in Oakland, California, Howard was graduated from the University of California in 1915 and then attended George Pierce Baker’s Workshop 47 at Harvard University. During this time, Howard began his early collaborative efforts with Edward Sheldon, who had a great influence on the development of American drama. In 1916, Howard received a master of arts degree from Harvard.

World War I interrupted Howard’s creative career. Inducted into the service in 1916, he served first as an ambulance driver in France and in the Balkans and then as a captain and fighter pilot in the newly formed Air Service. In 1919, Howard joined the editorial staff of the old humor magazine Life in New York. Three years later, he became the literary editor of Life and was writing and adapting plays. In 1921, he married Clare Eames, an actress, and they had a child, Clare Jenness Howard.

Howard’s determined interest in the daily lives of people led him to work in 1923 as a special investigative reporter and fiction writer for The New Republic and International Magazine. Before settling into the style of social drama that eventually brought him success, Howard wrote his first play, Swords, which failed, and collaborated with Sheldon on Bewitched.

Following Howard’s recognition as a playwright for They Knew What They Wanted, he continued over the next five years to write or translate and adapt several plays. Three of these, Dodsworth, Paths of Glory, and The Late Christopher Bean, are among his best contributions to American drama.

Lucky Sam McCarver opened at the Playhouse Theatre in New York on October 21, 1925, and capitalized on the spectacle of affluent life among New York’s socialites. The play is an ironic statement on that society and those who aspire to it. Ned McCobb’s Daughter and The Silver Cord both came to New York theaters...

(The entire section is 499 words.)