Williams, Emlyn, 1905-1987

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1905-11-26
Death 1987-09-25
Britons
English

Biographical notes:

Emlyn Williams was an actor, director, novelist, essayist, and playwright best known for NIGHT MUST FALL and THE CORN IS GREEN. Born in 1905 in Mostyn, Flintshire, Wales, where most of his family and friends mined coal, Emlyn Williams was inspired by a sympathetic teacher to pursue a theatrical and literary career. He acted in many plays and films, and also directed the movie THE LAST DAYS OF DOLWYN (1949) which marked the film debut of his fellow Welshman Richard Burton. From the early 1950s onward Williams toured in a one-person show in which he portrayed Charles Dickens. In his last years Williams was involved in setting up a film version of his novel HEADLONG. Emlyn Williams died on Sep. 25, 1987, at the age of 81.

From the guide to the Emlyn Williams papers, 1941-1986, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

Epithet: actor and playwright

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000696.0x0003d4

Welsh actor and author of the plays Night Must Fall, A Murder Has Been Arranged, and The Corn is Green; died in 1987.

From the description of Hearts of youth : Or the jewels of Sheba : autograph manuscript, 1918 Nov. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270914922

(George) Emlyn Williams was an actor and playwright best known for his stage thrillers, his autobiographical play The Corn Is Green , and for his one-man shows in which he portrayed Charles Dickens and Dylan Thomas.

Born November 26, 1905, in Mostyn, Flintshire, Wales, Williams was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, completing a M.A. in 1927. In the same year Williams began a long and distinguished career in the theatre, making his professional acting debut in the play And So To Bed . His semi-autobiographical play, The Corn Is Green, which he also directed, was later produced as a motion picture.

Overall, Emlyn Williams produced dozens of plays, several of which later appeared in book form. In addition, he wrote a number of screenplays, authored the novel Headlong, and published a two-part autobiography.

In 1955, Williams began performing as Dylan Thomas after reading the poet's works at a benefit for the latter's widow and children. His Dylan Thomas performance did not involve impersonating the writer, but consisted of readings from such works as A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog and Adventures in the Skin Trade . Emlyn Williams died on September 25, 1987, in London, England.

Actress, producer, and manager Katharine Cornell was one of several actresses dubbed "First Lady of the American Theater."

Born February 16, 1893, in Berlin, Germany, Cornell had her acting debut while understudying at the Washington Square Players in New York in November 1916 at the age of twenty-three.

One day after she married Guthrie McClintic on September 8, 1921, Cornell began rehearsals as Sydney Fairfield in A Bill of Divorcement (opened on October 10, 1921), which brought her rave reviews and her first long run.

In 1931, Cornell and her husband Guthrie McClintic founded the Cornell-McClintic Corporation and began producing plays. Cornell, directed by McClintic, began a new career as the last great actress/manager in the American theater. Over twenty-nine years, a span exceeded only by the Theatre Guild and the Shuberts, Cornell and McClintic mounted twenty-four productions in New York City and revived "the road" through nationwide tours.

Guthrie McClintic died on October 29, 1961, and Cornell never returned to work. She died on June 9, 1974, at her home on Martha's Vineyard.

Lyricist, actress, scriptwriter, and playwright Nancy Hamilton, was one of the first women to succeed as a lyricist.

Born July 27, 1908, in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, Hamilton was the author of an Academy Award-winning documentary on the life of Helen Keller, Helen Keller in Her Story, and wrote the sketches and lyrics for several successful Broadway revues.

Hamilton died on February 18, 1985, in New York, NY.

"(George) Emlyn Williams." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Gale Biography In Context. http://ic.galegroup.com/ (accessed May 25, 2011). "Katharine Cornell." Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1994. Gale Biography In Context. http://ic.galegroup.com/ (accessed May 25, 2011). "Nancy Hamilton." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Gale Biography In Context. http://ic.galegroup.com/ (accessed May 25, 2011).

From the guide to the Emlyn Williams letters to Katharine Cornell and Nancy Hamilton, 1962-1980, 1962-1964, 1978-1980, (University of Delaware Library - Special Collections)

Emlyn Williams was an actor, director, novelist, essayist, and playwright best known for NIGHT MUST FALL and THE CORN IS GREEN.

Born in 1905 in Mostyn, Flintshire, Wales, where most of his family and friends mined coal, Emlyn Williams was inspired by a sympathetic teacher to pursue a theatrical and literary career. He acted in many plays and films, and also directed the movie THE LAST DAYS OF DOLWYN (1949) which marked the film debut of his fellow Welshman Richard Burton. From the early 1950s onward Williams toured in a one-person show in which he portrayed Charles Dickens. In his last years Williams was involved in setting up a film version of his novel HEADLONG. Emlyn Williams died on Sep. 25, 1987, at the age of 81.

From the description of Emlyn Williams papers, 1941-1986. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122517253

Emlyn Williams was born in Wales in 1905. Educated in Holywell and Switzerland he won a scholarship to Oxford with the help of Miss Sarah Grace Cooke, a teacher who encouraged Williams in his studies (in particular fostering his gift for languages), offered financial and emotional support, and stayed a life-long friend and confidant until her death.

As an undergraduate Williams joined O.U.D.S. (the Oxford University Drama Society) and began writing plays, of which, two were performed at the local Oxford Playhouse Theatre. In 1927 he joined a repertory company and began his stage career. The early 1930s saw him achieve his first successes as a playwright with works such as A Murder Has Been Arranged, The Late Christopher Bean and Night Must Fall . His most popular play remains The Corn Was Green (1938), whose main character Miss Moffatt was based on Miss Cook. Ethel Barrymore played the lead in the successful 1940 Broadway production and 1945 saw a film version made starring Bette Davis.

Williams' screen career saw him acting in a number of movies, including The Stars Look Down (1940) with Michael Redgrave and Ivanhoe (1952) with Elizabeth Taylor. He wrote a number of screenplays, and in 1956 worked with Alfred Hitchcock on The Man Who Knew Too Much . His only film as a director, The Last Days of Dolwyn (1949), featured the screen debut of fellow Welsh actor Richard Burton.

In 1951 Williams began touring his one-man show of Dickens readings, which became popular internationally. He followed this success with other one-man shows; A Boy Growing Up (1955) based on the life of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and Saki (1977) based on the writings of H.H. Munro.

Williams published two volumes of autobiography; George (1961) and Emlyn (1973), as well as two books exploring the psychology of murder.

In 1935 he married actress Molly Shan (real name Mary Marjorie) and they had two sons. He was awarded a CBE in 1962 and died at his London home from complications from cancer in 1987.

May Swallow was a friend and teaching colleague of Miss Cooke. They lived together in Leeds during the 1960s and 1970s.

From the guide to the Emlyn Williams Correspondence, 1964-1971, (V&A Department of Theatre and Performance)

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Subjects:

  • Motion pictures
  • Theater--United States
  • Prompt-book
  • Dramatists
  • Actors and Actresses--20th century--Correspondence
  • Theater
  • Dramatists, American--20th century--Correspondence
  • Musicals--Librettos
  • Drama (English)
  • Motion pictures--United States

Occupations:

  • Dramatists
  • Actresses
  • Actors

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • Playhouse Theatre, Oxford (as recorded)
  • Oxford University, Oxford (as recorded)