(b near Winchester, VA, Dec 7, 1873; d New York, NY, April 24, 1947). American poet, journalist, and author. Between 1892 and 1940, she produced numerous novels, three short story collections, and one volume of poetry. Born and raised in rural Virginia, Cather moved with her family to Nebraska in 1883; her writing was deeply influenced by both the lively immigrant culture of that time and the landscape of the prairie itself. She published her first short story in 1892 before graduating from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (BA 1894). Working as a journalist in Lincoln, then Pittsburgh, and later in New York, she honed her skills as a writer and nurtured a fierce sense of ambition that was strikingly modern for a woman of her time. Her novel One of Ours brought her the Pulitzer Prize in 1922 and launched her career as a literary celebrity. Although not a musical expert or a performer herself, Cather was a passionate supporter of the arts, and she maintained close relationships with many of the notable musicians of her day, such as Yehudi Menuhin and the British pianist Myra Hess. Her proximity to the opera scene in New York fed an interest in Wagnerian opera in particular, and her notion of the “diva” is emblematic of female power and independence in both ...
Marilyn Fritz Shardlow
revised by Jonas Westover
(b New York, NY, Sept 8, 1896; d New York, NY, July 30, 1983). American lyricist and librettist. He studied at Columbia University, where he was a contemporary of Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II, and served in the US Navy before becoming director of publicity and advertising in 1919 for the Goldwyn Pictures Corporation (from 1924 known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer or MGM). He wrote verse in his spare time, and was asked by Jerome Kern to supply the lyrics for Dear Sir (1924). He also worked with Vernon Duke, Jimmy McHugh, and Ralph Rainger. But he is best remembered for the numerous songs he wrote in collaboration with arthur Schwartz , beginning in 1929 with the revue The Little Show (with “I guess I’ll have to change my plan”). Other collaborations with Schwartz include Three’s a Crowd (1930) and The Band Wagon (1931, containing the hit “Dancing in the Dark”). Their professional relationship extended over a period of more than 30 years to the production of the musical ...
Judith A. Sebesta
(b Chicago, IL, Feb 25, 1928; d Beverly Hills, CA, Sept 11, 2009). American librettist. He began his prolific and diverse career at 16 writing for radio. After moving to television in the 1950s, he collaborated with such well-known early television actors as Sid Caesar and Mel Brooks. His career in that medium peaked with M*A*S*H, for which he wrote the pilot and subsequently wrote, produced, and occasionally directed the hit series. His screenwriting credits include Tootsie (1982) and Oh, God! (1977), for which he was nominated for an Oscar. His librettos for A Funny Thing Happened on to the Way to the Forum (1962) and City of Angels (1989) both won Tony Awards. After Gelbart’s death from cancer in 2009, Jack Lemmon, Carl Reiner, and Woody Allen all named him the best American comedy writer they had ever known....
revised by Jonas Westover
(b Salt Lake City, UT, Aug 18, 1873; d New York, NY, Jan 24, 1963). American librettist and lyricist. He was educated at Knox College, then taught English for six years at Whitman College before going to New York for further study at Columbia University. In 1902 he became a newspaper journalist and the following year a copywriter for an advertising agency. His friendship with the composer Karl Hoschna led him to try his hand at writing musicals, and their collaboration Three Twins (1908, including the song “Cuddle Up a Little Closer, Lovey Mine”) was a great success. Harbach soon became a prolific writer; he produced over 40 works for Broadway and also wrote occasionally for films. After Hoschna’s death in 1911 he entered into a successful partnership with Rudolf Friml. Many of his best lyrics and librettos, however, were written after 1920 in collaboration with his younger protégé Oscar Hammerstein II. Among his best-known songs are “Rose-Marie” and “Indian Love Call” (...
Paul C. Echols
revised by Laurie Blunsom
(b New York, NY, May 27, 1819; d South Portsmouth, RI, Oct 17, 1910). American poet, author, and social activist. In 1843 she married Samuel Gridley Howe and moved with him to Boston, where both became prominent abolitionists and jointly edited an antislavery paper, The Commonwealth. She began publishing lyric verse in 1854, but in later life concentrated on writing essays and books, notably Sex and Education (1874), Modern Society (1881), and a life of Margaret Fuller (1883). Her primary focus, however, remained social issues, and throughout her life she supported various liberal causes, including suffrage, the peace movement, public health, and various women’s issues. She became and remains most famous, however, for her poem “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (“Mine eyes have seen the glory”), written on 19 November 1861 after a visit to a Union army camp near Washington, DC. The poem was widely circulated after its appearance in the ...