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Robert Emmet Sherwood

Sherwood, Robert Emmet, 1896–1955, American dramatist, b. New Rochelle, N.Y., grad. Harvard, 1918. After serving in World War I, he wrote for Vanity Fair and Life, serving as editor of the latter from 1924 to 1928. His first play, the historical comedy The Road to Rome (1927), was an immediate success. It was followed by The Love Nest (1927), Waterloo Bridge (1930), and Reunion in Vienna (1931), a nostalgic comedy of the exiled Hapsburgs. His next plays— The Petrified Forest (1935), a melodrama set in the Arizona desert; Idiot's Delight (1936; Pulitzer Prize), an antiwar drama; and There Shall Be No Night (1940; Pulitzer Prize), about the Russian invasion of Finland—depict a civilization on the brink of disaster. Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1938; Pulitzer Prize), one of his most notable efforts, concerns Lincoln's early years. During World War II, Sherwood was director of overseas operations in the Office of War Information and a speech writer for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. On the basis of the papers of Harry Hopkins he wrote a memoir, Roosevelt and Hopkins (1948; Pulitzer Prize), one of the most important documents on World War II. Sherwood also adapted Jacques Deval's comedy Tovarich (1936); wrote film scripts, including The Best Years of Our Lives (1946); and completed Philip Barry's last play, Second Threshold (1951).

See biographical studies by J. M. Brown (1965; ed. by N. Cousins, 1970), and W. J. Meserve (1970).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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