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Justin Brooks Atkinson
Brooks Atkinson
(November 28, 1894 – January 14, 1984) was an American theatre critic. He worked for The New York Times
The New York Times
from 1925 to 1960. In his obituary, the Times called him "the theater's most influential reviewer of his time."[1] A war correspondent during World War II, he received the Pulitzer Prize in 1947 for his work as the Moscow
Moscow
correspondent for the Times.[2]

Contents

1 Biography 2 Publications 3 Legacy 4 References 5 External links

Biography[edit]

Atkinson in the drama department of The New York Times
The New York Times
(September 1942)

Atkinson was born in Melrose, Massachusetts
Melrose, Massachusetts
to Jonathan H. Atkinson, a salesman statistician and Garafelia Taylor.[3] As a boy, he printed his own newspaper (using movable type), and planned a career in journalism.[4] He attended Harvard University
Harvard University
where he began writing for the Boston Herald.[5] He graduated from Harvard in 1917, and worked at the Springfield Daily News and the Boston Evening Transcript, where he was assistant to the drama critic. In 1922, he became the editor of the New York Times
New York Times
Book Review, and in 1925 the drama critic.[1] Atkinson married Oriana Macliveen, a writer, in August 1926. On the drama desk, Atkinson quickly became known for his commitment to new kinds of theater—he was one of the first critical admirers of Eugene O'Neill—for his interest in all kinds of drama, including off-Broadway productions. In 1928, he said of the new play The Front Page, "No one who has ground his heels in the grime of a police headquarters press room will complain that this argot misrepresents the gentlemen of the press."[1] In 1932 Atkinson dropped the J. from his bi-line and embraced the witty, direct writing style that became his hallmark.[5] His reviews were reputed to have the power to make or break a new stage production: for example, his panning in 1940 of Lawrence Riley's Return Engagement led to that comedy's closure after only eight performances, this despite the fact that Riley's previous comedy, Personal Appearance, had lasted for over 500 performances on Broadway.[citation needed] Atkinson, who was dubbed "the conscience of the theater," was not comfortable with the influence he wielded over the Broadway box office.[5] After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Atkinson attempted to enlist in the Navy, but was refused. He requested a reassignment to war coverage, and the New York Times
New York Times
sent him to the front lines as a war correspondent in China, where he covered the second Sino-Japanese war until 1945. While in China, he visited Mao Tse-Tung in Yenan
Yenan
and was captivated by Mao, writing favorably on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) movement, and against the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek, which he saw as reactionary and corrupt. After visiting Yenan, he wrote that the CCP political system was best described as an "agrarian or peasant democracy, or as a farm labor party."[6][7] Atkinson viewed the Chinese Communist Party as Communist in name only and more democratic than totalitarian; the Times effusively titled his article Yenan, a Chinese Wonderland City.[6][7] After the end of the war, Atkinson stayed only briefly in New York before being sent to Moscow
Moscow
as a press correspondent; his work as the Moscow
Moscow
correspondent for the Times earned him a Pulitzer Prize for Correspondence in 1947.[1] After returning from the Soviet Union, Atkinson was reassigned to the drama desk, where he remained until his retirement in 1960. He is given much credit for the growth of Off-Broadway into a major theatrical force in the 1950s, and has been cited by many influential people in the theatre as crucial to their careers. David Merrick's infamous spoof ad for Subways Are For Sleeping—in which he hired seven ordinary New Yorkers who had the same names as prominent drama critics to praise his musical—had to wait for Atkinson's retirement, because Merrick could not find anyone with the right name. There was only one Brooks Atkinson
Brooks Atkinson
in New York City.[citation needed] Atkinson was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1960.[8] He came briefly out of retirement in 1965 to write a favorable review of Man of La Mancha; his review was printed on the first page of the show's original souvenir program.[citation needed] After his retirement, he became a member of The Players who organized a tribute dinner for Atkinson's 80th birthday which was attended by Arthur Miller, Elia Kazan, and other prominent actors and playwrights. He died on January 14, 1984 at Crestwood Hospital in Huntsville, Alabama. Atkinson had moved to Huntsville from his farm in Durham, New York in 1981 to be closer to his family.[1] Publications[edit]

Skyline Promenades, 1925 East of the Hudson, 1931 The Cingalese Prince, 1934 Once Around the Sun, 1951 New Voices in American Theater, 1955 Tuesdays and Fridays, 1963 Broadway, 1970 This Bright Land: A Personal View, 1972 The Lively Years, 1920-1973, 1973 Henry Thoreau, The Cosmic Yankee, 1981

Legacy[edit] In 1960, the Mansfield Theatre
Theatre
in New York was renamed Brooks Atkinson Theatre
Theatre
in his honor. References[edit]

^ a b c d e Sheppard, Richard K. (January 15, 1984). "Brooks Atkinson, 89, Dead; Key Voice In Drama 31 Years". New York Times. Retrieved 23 July 2014. Brooks Atkinson, the nation's most influential critic at a time when American drama first emerged as a serious art form, died of pneumonia yesterday at Crestwood Hospital in Huntsville, Ala. He was 89 years old. ...  ^ "1947 Pulitzer Prizes". Pulitzer prize winners by year. Retrieved August 9, 2017.  ^ "Father of Brooks Atkinson." New York Times
New York Times
(August 27, 1944): 33. Aug 27 1944. ProQuest. Web. 9 Aug. 2017 . ^ Finding Aid, Brooks Atkinson
Brooks Atkinson
Papers 1894-1984, *T Mss 1968-001, Billy Rose Theatre
Theatre
Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. ^ a b c "Atkinson, (Justin) Brooks." The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives. Ed. Kenneth T. Jackson, Karen Markoe, and Arnold Markoe. Vol. 1: 1981-1985. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998. p22-24. ^ a b Knightley, Phillip, The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero and Myth-Maker from the Crimea to Iraq, JHU Press (2004), ISBN 0-8018-8030-0, ISBN 978-0-8018-8030-8, p. 303 ^ a b Shewmaker, Kenneth E., Americans and Chinese Communists, 1927-1945: A Persuading Encounter, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press (1971) ISBN 0-8014-0617-X ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Brooks Atkinson.

Brooks Atkinson
Brooks Atkinson
Theatre
Theatre
Broadway, New York, NY Brooks Atkinson
Brooks Atkinson
papers, 1904-1980, held by the Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 14923661 LCCN: n50027009 ISNI: 0000 0001 1878 4235 GND: 115653066 SUDOC: 035490640 BNF: cb134829675 (da

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