Van Druten, John, 1901-1957

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1901-06-01
Death 1957-12-19
US
English

Biographical notes:

John William Van Druten (1901-1957) was a playwright, director, screenwriter, and novelist.

In England, where he was born, he was a solicitor and lectured on English law and legal history at the University College of Wales. His first successful play was Young Woodley which played in London and New York. In addition to his later plays which were mostly comedies, he wrote novels and directed musicals. He was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters.

From the description of John Van Druten papers, ca. 1920-1957. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122486588

John Van Druten, writer and director, was born in London in 1901.

Though interested in becoming a writer, he studied law and qualified as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Judicature. He did not pursue a legal career, however and took a teaching position at the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth. During this period Van Druten continued to write and in 1925 he wrote his first successful play YOUNG WOODLEY. This marked the beginning of his literary career and the end of his life in academia. Van Druten was especially skilled as a writer of stage plays. Among his most popular works are: I AM A CAMERA; BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE; I REMEMBER MAMA and THE VOICE OF THE TURTLE. As a director he gained acclaim for the Broadway production of THE KING AND I. He died in 1957.

From the description of John Van Druten papers, 1901-1957. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122640151

John Van Druten was born in London, England in 1901. Son of Eve and Wilhemus Van Druten, he demonstrated at a very early age his talent and love of writing. He first piece, written at the age of seven was a three page play about Mary, Queen of Scots. Because his father believed writing to be an unreliable career, Van Druten studied law and qualified as a solicitor of the Supreme Court Judicature in 1923. Not wanting to practice law he became a lecturer of legal history at the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth.

Van Druten continued his writing and realized his real talent in 1925 with the completion and production of his play, Young Woodley . This marked the end of his teaching career and the beginning of his career as a writer and playwright. Thoughout his career as a playwright it was apparent that Van Druten's forte was comedy plays about everyday life. Many of his plays focus on women and their relationships with men. Among his best known works are: I Am a Camera, based on The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood; The Voice of the Turtle ; Bell, Book and Candle ; There's Always Juliet ; I've Got Sixpence and I Remember Mama . As a director he was acclaimed for his direction of the Broadway production of The King and I .

Van Druten emigrated to the United States and became a citizen in 1944. Most of his creative time was spent writing at his ranch in California, although the New York theater scene was the locale of his greatest successes and triumphs. Van Druten fell ill with heart problems in 1956 from which he never fully recovered. He died in 1957.

From the guide to the John Van Druten papers, 1901-1957, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

John Van Druten (1901-1957) was an Anglo-American playwright, theatrical director, screenwriter and novelist. Born in London of a Dutch father and an English mother Van Druten graduated from the University College School in that city. Formerly a solicitor and lecturer on English law and legal history at the University College of Wales, he first came into prominence with Young Woodley, 1928, which was banned by the censor, and produced by the Stage Society as a protest. When the ban was removed, it was seen in London and had a long run. It was also very successful in New York.

Van Druten's later plays, which are mainly comedies, include There's Always Juliet, 1931, The Distaff Side, 1933, Old Acquantaince, 1940, The Damask Cheek, (with Lloyd Morris) 1942, The Voice of the Turtle, 1943, Make Way For Lucid, 1948 and Bell, Book and Candle, 1950. Among novels written by him are: A Woman On Her Way, 1931, And Then You Wish, 1936, Playwright At Work, 1953, and The Vicarious Years, 1956.

In 1951 Van Druten directed Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King And I and was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters.

From the guide to the John Van Druten papers, ca. 1920-1957, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)

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Subjects:

  • Theater--United States
  • Authors, American
  • Parodies
  • Playwriting
  • American literature--20th century
  • Theater
  • Dramatists
  • Christmas cards
  • Theater--Great Britain

Occupations:

  • Dramatists
  • Authors
  • Novelists

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)