Behrman, S.N.

Behrman, S.N.

▪ American author
in full  Samuel Nathaniel Behrman 
born June 9, 1893, Worcester, Mass., U.S.
died Sept. 9, 1973, New York City

      American short-story writer and playwright best known for popular Broadway plays that commented on contemporary moral issues. Behrman wrote about the wealthy, intellectual sector of society, endowing his characters with eloquence and intelligence. He is distinguished among popular playwrights for introducing volatile and complicated issues into his plays and for refusing to create shallow characters.

      As a young man, Behrman contributed to newspapers and magazines, including New Republic and The New Yorker, and studied drama at Harvard. His first play, The Second Man (1927), was an immediate success. Behrman followed it with a string of successes, including Meteor (1929), Brief Moment (1931), and Biography (1932). In the 1930s Behrman began to struggle with the incongruity of writing comedy during an era of war and economic crisis. He tackled the subject of fascism in Rain from Heaven (1934). But despite Behrman's increasing treatment of the serious political themes of the day, he was criticized for not making his personal viewpoint known, instead letting the characters speak for him. In response, Behrman wrote No Time for Comedy (1939), in which the protagonist, an author of light comedy, criticizes himself for his failure to address effectively serious contemporary problems. His work is closely associated with the Theatre Guild.

      Behrman wrote more than two dozen comedies during his 40-year career, and nearly every one of them was a hit. He also wrote many short stories, two biographies, and a number of screenplays.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • BEHRMAN, MARTIN — (1864–1926), U.S. public official. Behrman was born in New York City and taken to New Orleans in 1865 by his parents, who died when he was 12. At 19 he became a traveling salesman for a large grocery concern. Turning to politics, Behrman was… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Behrman, S.N. (Samuel Nathaniel) — (1893–1973)    US playwright and author. Born in Worcester, Mass., of immigrant parents, Behrman became one of the most successful playwrights on the American stage. His plays included The Second Man (1927), End of Summer (1936), Jacobowsky and… …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Behrman — biographical name Samuel Nathaniel 1893 1973 American dramatist …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Behrman — /bair meuhn/, n. S(amuel) N(athan), 1893 1973, U.S. playwright and author. * * * …   Universalium

  • Behrman — Behr•man [[t]ˈbɛər mən[/t]] n. big S(amuel) N(athan), 1893–1973, U.S. playwright …   From formal English to slang

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