Paul Green, Playwright of the Real South

John Herbert Roper

The definitive biography of a prominent southern writer and activist


"This is a good book about a wonderful man. . . . Here you will find the idealist, the liberal crusader, the fierce defender of civil rights for African Americans. But the Paul Green I knew, who gave me his friendship and encouragement when I was a young writer, was the dramatist. In his ordinary conversations, in his plays, and in his great outdoor drama, The Lost Colony, he taught me more than I can ever say about writing what you believe in. I received no greater gift from anyone."
—Romulus Linney, author of Heathen Valley

"A most readable biography of an important southern literary figure—including a particularly fine discussion of Green's politics and his commitment to social causes, especially racial justice."
—Fred Hobson, author of But Now I See

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This is the most thorough and comprehensive biography to date of writer and activist Paul Green (1894-1981). Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his play In Abraham's Bosom and author of the pioneering symphonic drama The Lost Colony, Green was a literary figure of national prominence during the 1920s and 1930s. During this time of experimentation and boldness in American theater, Green was praised by directors and critics, had a play chosen three times for the collection Year's Best Plays, and gained the respect of African American actors longing for meaningful roles.

Green's personal and political convictions fully complemented the social-realist leanings of his art, a literary output comprising plays in many forms, essays, folklore collections, novels, and film scripts. In places like his native North Carolina, Green stood apart even from other proponents of integration by claiming that sexual as well as social intermingling of the races was a natural occurrence in human society.

Drawing on his complete access to Green's papers and on interviews with surviving family members, John Herbert Roper covers all the important aspects of Green's life and career--his childhood, military service, education, travels, and marriage, as well as his many literary undertakings and friendships.

By word and deed, Paul Green spread the faith of liberalism across the New South, which he insistently called the "Real South." Long after literary fashion had left him behind, he wrote daily and remained at the forefront of causes concerning race relations, militarism, women's and workers' rights, and capital punishment. As an artist and an individual, Green set an early and enduring standard of courage and forthrightness.

Page count: 352 pp.
Trim size: 6.125 x 9.25


List price: $46.95

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John Herbert Roper is Richardson Professor of History at Emory and Henry College in Virginia. His books include Paul Green, Playwright of the Real South and C. Vann Woodward, Southerner (both Georgia).