Ames, Winthrop, 1870-1937

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Theatrical manager, producer, director and writer, Winthrop Ames was born on November 25, 1870 into a wealthy and socially prominent family in North Easton, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard and began a career in publishing because of his family's strong opposition to a career in theater. In 1904, however, he traveled to Europe to study the "new stagecraft" and on his return became joint manager of the Castle Square Theatre in Boston with Loren F. Deland. This led to his appointment in 1908 as managing director of the New Theatre, the largest playhouse in New York City at Central Park West and 62nd St., with Lee Shubert as the business manager and John Corbin as the literary advisor. Founded by millionaires, the New Theatre was to be a repertory theater presenting the best in classical and modern drama free of commercial pressures. Shakespeare was to be the primary offering; the theatre opened in November 1908 with a lavish production of Antony and Cleopatra starring Julia Marlowe and E. H. Sothern. However, due to its unwieldy size and financial failure, the theater was closed by its founders after a mere two seasons.

The New Theatre reopened as the Century, but Ames had moved on to open the Little Theatre on West 44th St. in March 1912. At 300 seats, it was the smallest playhouse in New York City. In 1913, he opened the Booth Theatre on West 45th St. with the Shuberts and managed both theaters into the 1930s. Ames had many successes as a producer including Shaw's The Philanderer (1913), The Beggar on Horseback (1924) by George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly, and revivals of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas at the Booth, 1926-1929. He was also the director of his plays, demanding high standards for all aspects of each production.

Respected in the theater world, Ames served on various committees. During World War I he organized the Over There Theatre League which sent actors to Europe to entertain the troops. He retired from theatrical management in 1932 because of poor health, returning to North Easton, but continued to be involved in theatrical affairs helping to found the Cambridge (Mass.) School of Drama. He was elected a Harvard trustee in 1929 and vice president of the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1936. He also translated The Merchant of Paris from the French (1930) and wrote an adaptation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1913) under the name Jessie Braham White.

Ames married Lucy (Fuller) Cabot in London on September 28, 1911; they had two daughters: Catherine and Joan. He died of pneumonia on November 3, 1937 in Boston, Mass. and was buried in North Easton.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn W. S. (William Schwenck) Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan additional printed ephemera, 1815-2008. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn W. S. (William Schwenck) Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan printed ephemera, 1826-2006. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
creatorOf Mark XXM : typescript, undated New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Geddes, Norman Bel, 1893-1958. Norman Bel Geddes Theater and Industrial Design Papers, 1873-1964 (bulk 1914-1958). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Browne, Maurice, 1881-1955. Ellen Van Volkenburg-Maurice Browne general correspondence, 1911- University of Michigan
creatorOf Ames, Winthrop, 1870-1937. Autograph letter signed, dated : New York, 23 December 1929, to Mr. [Harry Harkness] Flagler, 1929, 23 December. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Ford, Harriet, 1868-1949. Harriet Ford papers, 1888-1948. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Kauser, Alice, ca. 1872-1945. Papers of Alice Kauser, ca. 1895-1940 (inclusive). Houghton Library
creatorOf Edwin Francis Edgett letters from others Houghton Library
creatorOf Dan H. Laurence Collection. The Philanderer / by Bernard Shaw ; directed by Winthrop Ames - program for production at the Little Theatre, New York, Dec. 1913. University of Guelph. McLaughlin Library
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company correspondence and records, 1832-1944. Houghton Library
creatorOf Ames, Winthrop, 1870-1937. Winthrop Ames diary, 1909-1911. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Ames, Wintrop, 1870-1937. Letter to Horace Howard Furness, Jr., 1921. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Taylor, Deems, 1885-1966. A kiss in Xanadu / Deems Taylor. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Fonds Edward Gordon Craig Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des arts du spectacle
referencedIn Mark Anthony De Wolfe Howe additional papers Houghton Library
creatorOf Winthrop Ames diary, 1909-1911 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Winthrop Ames collection, [ca. 1916-ongoing]. Museum of Performance & Design
referencedIn Alexander Woollcott correspondence, ca. 1856-1943 (inclusive), 1920-1943 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Irving, Henry, Sir, 1838-1905. Promptbooks for productions of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, ca.1797-1907. Houghton Library
referencedIn Additional papers, ca. 1870-1922. Houghton Library
referencedIn Century Company records New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Clarke, George H., 1840-1906?. Promptbooks for productions of Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor, ca.1830-1910. Houghton Library
referencedIn Correspondence and other papers of Arthur Sullivan, W. S. (William Schwenck) Gilbert, and related persons, 1834-1979. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
creatorOf Ames, Winthrop, 1870-1937. Correspondence to Van Wyck Brooks, [between 1920 and 1936]. University of Pennsylvania Library
creatorOf Kaufman, George S. (George Simon), 1889-1961. A kiss in Xanadu : scene diagrams, costume, property and light plots. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Baker, George Pierce, 1866-1935. George Pierce Baker papers, 1878-1958 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Papers, 1911-1944 (inclusive), 1929-1937 (bulk). Houghton Library
creatorOf Ames, Winthrop, 1870-1937,. Autograph letter signed from Winthrop Ames to Viola Allen (Duryea) [manuscript], 1916 January 17. Folger Shakespeare Library
referencedIn Ray Henderson papers, 1904-1937 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn John Reed papers, 1903-1967. Houghton Library
referencedIn John Phillips Marquand correspondence Houghton Library
referencedIn James Hazen Hyde papers, 1899-1934 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Rogers Memorial Collection: Henry Munroe Rogers papers, 1812-1937 (inclusive), 1862-1937 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Kaufman, George S. (George Simon), 1889-1961. Papers, 1918-1958. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
creatorOf Browne, Maurice, 1881-1955. Ellen Van Volkenburg-Maurice Browne general correspondence, 1911- University of Michigan
referencedIn Baker, George Pierce, 1866-1935. Papers of George Pierce Baker, 1882-1926 (inclusive), 1890-1926 (bulk). Houghton Library
creatorOf Winthrop Ames papers, 1908-1931 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Hyde, James H. (James Hazen), 1876-1959. James Hazen Hyde papers, 1899-1934. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Ames, Winthrop, 1870-1937. Winthrop Ames papers. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Webster, Henry Kitchell, 1875-1932. Henry Kitchell Webster papers, 1880-1932, bulk 1900-1932. Newberry Library
referencedIn Wendell family papers Houghton Library
referencedIn George Pierce Baker papers, 1878-1958 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Harriet Ford papers, 1888-1948 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Kaufman, George S. (George Simon), 1889-1961. Papers, [microform] 1918-1958. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn George S. Kaufman papers, [microform], 1918-1958 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn John Jay Chapman papers Houghton Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Allen, Viola, 1867-1948 person
associatedWith Baker, George Pierce, 1866-1935 person
associatedWith Baker, George Pierce, 1866-1935. person
associatedWith Browne, Maurice, 1881-1955. person
correspondedWith Century Company corporateBody
correspondedWith Chapman, John Jay, 1862-1933 person
associatedWith Craig, Edward Gordon (1872-1966) person
associatedWith Dan H. Laurence Collection. corporateBody
correspondedWith Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel, 1853-1935 person
correspondedWith Edgett, Edwin Francis, 1867-1946 person
associatedWith Flagler, Harry Harkness, person
associatedWith Foley, Martin P. (pseud.) person
associatedWith Ford, Harriet, 1868-1949. person
associatedWith Geddes, Norman Bel, 1893-1958. person
associatedWith Henderson, Ray, 1889-1937 person
correspondedWith Houghton Mifflin Company. corporateBody
correspondedWith Howe, M. A. De Wolfe (Mark Antony De Wolfe), 1864-1960 person
associatedWith Hyde, James H. (James Hazen), 1876-1959. person
associatedWith Kaufman, George S. (George Simon), 1889-1961. person
associatedWith Kauser, Alice, ca. 1872-1945. person
correspondedWith Marquand, John P. (John Phillips), 1893-1960 person
associatedWith New Theatre (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith New Theatre (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith New Theatre (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
correspondedWith Peabody, Josephine Preston, 1874-1922 person
correspondedWith Reed, John, 1887-1920 person
correspondedWith Rogers, Henry Munroe, 1839-1937 person
associatedWith Taylor, Deems, 1885-1966. person
associatedWith Webster, Henry Kitchell, 1875-1932. person
correspondedWith Wendell family. family
correspondedWith Woollcott, Alexander, 1887-1943 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York City NY US
Subject
Theater
Theater
Short stories, American
Occupation
Directors
Playwrights
Producers
Producers and directors
Screenwriters
Activity

Person

Birth 1870-11-25

Death 1937-11-03

Americans

Information

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SNAC ID: 85607218