- (1842-1908)Born in Detroit, Bronson Crocker Howard is often described as the first professional playwright in the United States, but his more significant "firsts" include his manifesto, "The Laws of Dramatic Composition," as well as his pioneering depiction of Wall Street businessmen in several works, including his most acclaimed play, The Henrietta (1887). Following schooling at Yale University and while working as a newspaperman, Howard wrote his first major play, Fantine (1864), based on Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. Other Howard plays include Saratoga (1870), a study of social classes adapted for English audiences as Brighton (1874), a comedy of manners called Diamonds (1872), the melodramatic Moorcroft (1874), The Banker's Daughter (1878; adapted from his 1873 play Lillian's Last Love) about a woman falling in love with an older man she married for money, and Young Mrs. Winthrop (1882), a character study of a neglected wife. Howard contrasted American and French women in One of Our Girls (1885), but this play's success paled in comparison with Shenandoah (1888), a melodrama depicting two friends fighting for the opposing armies during the American Civil War. Howard is credited with elevating the quality and status of playwrights, as exemplified by his founding of the American Dramatists' Club in 1891.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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