Atkinson, Brooks, 1894-1984

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1894-11-28
Death 1983-01-14
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Drama critic.

From the description of Reminiscences of Justin Brooks Atkinson : lecture, [195-?]. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122631692

American drama critic educated at Harvard University, Atkinson became a literary editor of the New York Times in 1922 and served as the paper's dramatic critic from 1926 to 1960.

From the description of Brooks Atkinson papers, 1925-1976. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 612378941

Brooks Atkinson, drama critic for the New York Times was born Justin Brooks Atkinson in Melrose, Massachusetts in 1894.

Atkinson was a graduate of Harvard University and began writing for the New York Times in 1922. In 1926 he became the drama critic after the retirement of Stark Young. A hiatus in this work occurred during World War II when he became a foreign correspondent. He returned to the drama desk in 1946 and remained the New York Times drama critic until his retirement in 1960.

Brooks Atkinson's love of theater revealed itself not only in his frequenting of traditional Broadway theater but also by his discovery and encouragement of new talents to be found on the off-Broadway stage. A champion of all aspects of theater in New York, Atkinson was also known as an outspoken voice against the practices of the McCarthy era and the investigations of the House Un-American Activities Committee, using his skill as a journalist to inform the public and expose the tactics of Joseph McCarthy and his supporters.

Brooks Atkinson retired from the New York Times in 1960 but continued writing a twice-weekly column for another 5 years called Critic-At-Large. He died in Huntsville, Alabama on January 13, 1984.

From the description of Brooks Atkinson papers, 1904-1980. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 144652448

Justin Brooks Atkinson was born in Melrose, Massachusetts in 1894. His interest in writing became apparent at an early age when he began writing and publishing his own newspapers. He continued throughout high school and some of the publications include: The Bay State Amateur, The Coagent, The Melrose Record and The Olympian . Atkinson graduated from Harvard University and from there taught English at Dartmouth. After a working as a reporter in Massachusetts newspapers, Atkinson joined the army in 1918. In 1922 he joined the staff of the New York Times .

Atkinson's career at the New York Times spanned the years 1922 until his final retirement in 1965. His first position there was as editor of the Sunday literary section, although he occasionally wrote play reviews. In 1926 Atkinson became the drama critic of the New York Times, replacing Stark Young. He served in this capacity until his retirement in 1960. In 1941 he took a temporary leave from this position while be worked as a war correspondent during World War II. He officially retired from the New York Times in 1960 when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 65. However, he continued for an additional 5 years writing a twice weekly column known as Critic-At-Large. Atkinson's love of theater revealed itself not only in his frequenting traditional Broadway productions but also by his discovery and encouragement of new talents to be found on the Off Broadway stage. A champion of both traditional and new forms of theater in New York, Atkinson was also known as an outspoken voice against the practices of the McCarthy era and the interrogations of the House Un-American Activities Committee, using his skill as a journalist to inform the public and expose the tactics practiced by Joseph McCarthy and his supporters in their vigilant fight against communism.

Atkinson maintained both professional and personal relationships with some of the foremost playwrights of the 20th century. He carried on a long standing friendship and correspondence with Sean O'Casey which is revealed in the vast amount of correspondence between them. Other friends and acquaintances include Tennessee Williams, Moss Hart, Maxwell Anderson, S. N. Behrman, Robert W. Anderson, George S. Kaufman, Clifford Odets, Robert Sherwood, Thornton Wilder and Eugene O'Neill, among others.

Brooks Atkinson was honored throughout his life both by his peers and those he served in the theater community by numerous awards and honors. In 1947, he won a Pulitzer prize for a series of articles which he had written when he was in Moscow in 1945. He was awarded the Antoinette Perry Award for his "distinguished achievement in the theater" and was the only critic to have a Broadway theater named after him. Honorary awards include membership in the Players and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Atkinson not only wrote as a journalist but also published many other works on the theater and other topics. Some of his titles include: Broadway Scrapbook, The Cingalese Prince, The Lively Years, Tuesdays and Thursdays, Broadway, and This Bright Land . He also edited and wrote the forward for a volume about the works of his long-time friend, Sean O'Casey entitled The O'Casey Reader .

Atkinson died in Huntsville, Alabama on January 13, 1984.

From the guide to the Brooks Atkinson papers, 1904-1980, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

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Subjects:

  • Off--Broadway theater
  • World War, 1939-1945--China
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • Theater
  • Theater critics--Interviews
  • Dramatic criticism
  • Theater--New York (State)--New York
  • Anti-communist movements--United States
  • Theater critics
  • Anti-communist movements

Occupations:

  • Theater critics

Places:

  • China (as recorded)
  • New York (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)