Robert Woodruff Anderson papers
- Majority of material found within 1960-1980
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
A portion of this collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.
Extent35.54 linear feet (57 boxes and 1 oversize folder)
Also included are translations, correspondence, reviews, programs, photographs, and posters for many of the plays and their performances. The collection contains some published works of Anderson's as well: copies of his plays, contributions to newspapers, interviews, and an introduction to a book. There are, in addition, some references to Anderson's personal life; articles devoted to his late wife, Phyllis Anderson, and reviews of his former wife, Teresa Wright, the actress.
Biographical / Historical
From 1942 to 1946, Anderson served as a lieutenant in the United States Naval Reserve, earning a Bronze Star. It was there that his talent as a playwright was first recognized, and he was awarded First Prize in a National Theatre Conference for his play Come Marching Home. After World War II, Anderson taught playwriting at the American Theatre Wing in New York. During this time he continued to write, but is was not until the production of his play All Summer Long in 1952 that Anderson emerged as a serious talent.
In 1953 the play for which Anderson is most commonly remembered, Tea and Sympathy, was first produced. The play was a magnificent success and secured Anderson a distinguished place in the theater community. The years following this achievement were among Anderson's most prolific. Despite the difficulties often involved in getting his works produced, Anderson's plays once staged were consistently heralded as both a popular and critical success. Such plays include: Silent Night, Lonely Night, The Days Between, You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running, I Never Sang For My Father, and Solitaire and Double Solitaire.
During the height of his success as a playwright, Anderson suffered a tremendous personal loss. His wife Phyllis Stohl Anderson, perhaps the greatest influence on and supporter of his early work, died in 1956 of cancer. Anderson was remarried in 1959 to actress Teresa Wright. They were divorced in 1978.
In addition to his work as a playwright, Anderson also wrote a number of screenplays (many of which were based on his own plays), radio and television plays, and novels. He held and continues to hold various prestigious roles within the theater community, such as president of the New Dramatists Committee, 1955-56; president of the Dramatists Guild, 1971-73; and vice-president, Authors League of America, 1980-. Additionally, Anderson has been the recipient of a vast number of awards and prizes including a National Theatre Conference prize, 1945; Rockefeller fellowship, 1946; Writers Guild of America award, for screenplay, 1970; ACE award for television, 1991; and election to the Theater Hall of Fame, 1980.
More recently, Anderson has been the co-editor of a textbook series entitled Elements of Literature, published in 1988. He continues to contribute to the screen and stage with such works as The Last Act is a Solo, Absolute Strangers, and The Kissing Was Always the Best Part.
- I. Manuscripts and Typescripts: Plays, Screenplays, and Adaptations
- II. Manuscripts and Typescripts: Non-Dramatic Works
- III. Translations of Dramatic Works
- IV. Notes
- V. Programs
- VI. Posters
- VII. Reviews
- VIII. Photographs
- ___A. Production Photographs
- ___B. Personal Photographs
- IX. Videotapes
- X. Correspondence
- XI. Contracts
- XII. Published Works: Books, Articles, Interviews, and Introductions
- XIII. Literature about Robert Anderson
- XIV. Phyllis Stohl Anderson
- XV. Letters to Curators of the Harvard Theatre Collection
- XVI. Printed Works Dedicated or Inscribed to Phyllis Stohl Anderson and Robert Anderson
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Some materials that were included in earlier donations have been integrated into the present collection. These items consist of programs, reviews, and literature by and about Robert Anderson.
- Anderson, Robert Woodruff, 1917-2009. Robert Woodruff Anderson papers, 1931-1999: Guide.
- Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
- EAD ID
Part of the Houghton Library Repository
Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA