Paul Green was born Paul Eliot Green, on 17 March 1894, in Buies Creek, North Carolina. Green was first educated at Buies Creek Academy, today known as Campbell University. He then went on to study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at Cornell, for a short period of time. While at Chapel Hill, Green joined the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies on campus and the Carolina Playmakers.
Green first earned fame as a playwright in 1925 with a single act play entitled
The No 'Count Boy, which was produced by the New York Theatre Club. In 1926, his full-length play
In Abraham's Bosom, his full-length play produced by the Provincetown Players, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Both plays depicted African Americans in the South and were considered remarkable for the time. From 1928 to 1929, Green traveled to Europe on a Guggenheim Fellowship. While in Europe, he became impressed with the non-realistic productions put on by the avant garde playwrights like Bertolt Brecht (1889-1956). In 1930, after his return home, Green mostly abandoned the New York theatre because he felt it was too commercial.
During the summer of 1936, Green and a group of other well-known theatre people rented an old house in Nichols, Connecticut where, they felt, they could create works of art without distractions. While Green was there he wrote his pacifist musical play,
Johnny Johnson (1936) which had a successful run on Broadway. He also had a love affair with Lotte Lenya (1898-1981), the wife of Kurt Weill (1900-1950), who wrote the score for
Through these experimentations, Green created a new dramatic form that he named symphonic drama. His symphonic dramas were usually inspired by historical events and incorporated music and pageantry into the performance. Another important aspect of a symphonic drama was that it was to be performed outdoors. The most famous and longest lasting play to come out of Green's symphonic dramas was
The Lost Colony (1937) which retold the history of Sir Walter Raleigh's unsuccessful first English settlement in North America. It is still performed regularly each summer near the site of the original "Lost Colony" on Roanoke Island, North Carolina. Today, the play is the oldest outdoor historical drama in the United States. Another famous symphonic drama Green wrote, is
Cross and Sword (1965), which was adopted as the state play of Florida. Throughout his life Green wrote extensively on North Carolina, the state he loved and made his home.
Green also helped establish the Institute for Outdoor Drama (1963) which changed its name to the Institute for Outdoor Theatre (2014) and he was also among the founders of the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra (1932). Green also taught drama at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and was on the faculty until his death on 4 May 1981.
"Paul Green". [Biographical Sketch]
Wikipedia. Accessed 7 December 2016.
"Paul Green's Legacy - Alive and Well", by Roy Parker, Jr. Paul Green Foundation (ca. 2012)
Paul Green's Wordbook: An Alphabet of Reminiscence, by Paul Green; edited by Rhoda H. Wynn; Foreword by John M. Ehle (Boone: Appalachian Consortium Press; Chapel Hill, N.C.: Paul Green Foundation, 1990) 2 vols. xxii, 1,245 p.
"Paul Eliot Green Papers, 1880-1992 (Mss 03693)" 195.0 lin. ft. Southern Historical Collection, Louis R. Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.
Author: Jonathan Dembo, with the assistance of John Leche, 12/8/2016, 3/17/2017.
Stuart Wright collected and compiled the Paul Green Papers. He was born, Stuart Thurman Wright, on 30 March 1948, in Roxboro, North Carolina. He was the son of Frances Critcher Wright (1919-2010) and Wallace Lyndon Wright (1921-1965). An avid reader as a boy, Wright developed a strong interest in the American Civil War and with his father toured many of the war's battlefields searching for artifacts and studying the history of the era. At the age of 12, he won a statewide "Johnny Reb" essay contest and by the age of 15 had visited every major battlefield of the Civil War. Wright attended Roxboro High School, from which he graduated in 1966. It was during these years that he developed an interest in collecting historical books and manuscripts and began relationships with a number of local collectors and dealers.
In the fall of 1966, Wright enrolled at Wake Forest University as a pre-med, history, German and music student. Wright earned a B.A. in German and music in 1970. As a graduate student at Wake Forest University, Wright focused his studies on Southern history and literature, his ambition being to build an authoritative Southern Studies collection for the university. He received a master's degree in Southern Studies in 1973 and a second master's degree in U.S. History in 1980. Additionally Wright holds a professional degree from England in a medically related field. It was while studying there that he became interested in Thomas Wolfe, the noted North Carolina native and novelist.
Following his graduation from Wake Forest, Wright began to develop his collections more systematically, acquiring many first editions of Southern writers. In 1976 he began teaching at Reynolda House, a Wake Forest University affiliate dedicated to the arts and arts education. Wright taught classes in American music as well as human anatomy for art students. In 1978 Wright became Lecturer in Education at Wake Forest University. During his 10 years teaching at Wake Forest University, Wright authored numerous works of Civil War and North Carolina history, and dozens of articles, bibliographies, essays and reviews on Southern literature and the writers whose papers he collected. In addition, he developed a strong interest in the writings of the English poet Donald Davie and the Minnesota-born poet Richard Eberhart, whose works he also collected.
At the same time, Wright also began a career as a publisher by starting Palaemon Press in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. By 1984, Palaemon Press had produced 316 titles, consisting mainly of broadsides and limited editions, of the poetry and essays of such Southern writers as A. R. Ammons, Fred Chappell, James Dickey, William Goyen, George Garrett, and Eudora Welty. He also built comprehensive collections and compiled book-length descriptive bibliographies of A.R. Ammons, Andrew Lytle, Reynolds Price, James Dickey, William Goyen, Walker Percy, Randall Jarrell, Peter Taylor, George Garrett, Richard Eberhart, and Donald Davie. As well as serving as editor of the contemporary literature section of the
Bulletin of Bibliography throughout the 1980s, Wright also contributed pioneering checklists of the writings of Southern poets Henry Taylor, Charles Wright, and Robert Morgan. For Meckler Publishing he served as series editor for a number of book-length bibliographies and checklists. In recognition of these accomplishments, when he was just 32, Wright was elected to membership in New York's prestigious Grolier Club.
All of these works are represented in the Stuart Wright Collection. In his dealings with these various authors Wright made consistent efforts to acquire personal papers, letters and documents, photographs, manuscripts, drafts, proofs, and published materials to supplement his continuing activities as a purchaser of their works. In this way, Wright acquired perhaps a majority of his overall collection. Over the years a number of biographers used Wright's collection to aid their research. For example, James A. Grimshaw, Jr. used the collection extensively for his
Robert Penn Warren: A Descriptive Bibliography, 1922-1979 published by the University Press of Virginia, in 1981 and Craig S. Abbott did so as well for
John Crowe Ransom: A Descriptive Bibliography, published by Whitston Publishing Company, Inc. in 1999. Joseph Blotner also used the Wright collection in researching
Robert Penn Warren: A Biography, published by Random House in 1997.
Nevertheless, from the mid- to late 1980s, Wright began to look for a permanent home for his collection, which he felt had grown too large and yet had been too little used. Unable to find a repository willing to accept the entire collection under suitable conditions, he sold a number of individual author collections to Vanderbilt University, Duke University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Emory University. It was not until 2010 that he reached agreement to house the remaining, and largest part of his collection at East Carolina University. The Stuart Wright Collection in the East Carolina Manuscript Collection of J.Y. Joyner Library includes 106 sub-collections of the papers of Southern American writers, illustrators, composers, and publishers. The related Stuart Wright Book Collection holds several thousand volumes by or about many of the same writers. Many of these volumes contain annotations, inscriptions, and insertions that reveal much about the authors in the collection and their relationships with one another. In 1998 Wright moved to England, and since 2001 he has resided in the medieval market town of Ludlow, in Shropshire.
Author: Jonathan Dembo, 11/2/2016