Augustus Thomas

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Augustus Thomas
Augustus Thomas.png
Born January 8, 1857
St. Louis, Missouri, US
Died August 12, 1934
Nyack, New York, US
Other names Augustus Thomas
August Thomas
'Gus' Thomas
Occupation Playwright
Years active 1913–1934

Augustus Thomas (January 8, 1857 – August 12, 1934) was an American playwright, born in St. Louis, Missouri. The son of a doctor, he worked a number of jobs including a page in the 41st Congress, studying law and gaining some practical railway work experience before he turned to journalism and became editor of the Kansas City Mirror in 1889. Thomas had been writing since his teens when he wrote plays and even organized a small theatrical touring company.

Thomas was hired to work as an assistant at Pope's Theatre in St. Louis. During this time, he wrote a one-act play based on a short story by Frances Hodgson Burnett called The Burglar. After touring in the play, he expanded the show to four acts and was able to get Maurice Barrymore to play the title role. Subsequently, he was hired to succeed Dion Boucicault adapting foreign plays for the Madison Square Theatre.

His first original play, Alabama was produced by Kirke La Shelle in 1891 and its success allowed Thomas to write full-time. Alabama is the story of an un-reconstructed Confederate. Notably, Thomas was one of the first playwrights to make use of American material. Other plays along the same lines include Arizona (1899), In Mizzoura (1893), Colorado (1901) and Rio Grande (1916). Perhaps his most successful play was The Copperhead (1918) which made Lionel Barrymore a star.

Thomas reached a high artistic level in Arizona and The Witching Hour. A novelization of the latter appeared in 1908. He was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, was awarded the National Institute's gold medal in 1913, and in 1914 received an honorary A. M. degree from Williams College. According to the Oxford Companion to the Theatre, his plays are "on the whole, not profound, and provided entertainment of a kind acceptable to his audiences." Thomas was elected to The Lambs theatrical club in 1889 and served as its president from 1907 to 1910. He died in 1934 and was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis.

Selected works[edit]

1907 playbill for Arizona.
  • The Man Upstairs
  • Oliver Goldsmith (1899)
  • Arizona (1899)
  • The Earl of Pawtucket (1903)
  • The Other Girl
  • Mrs. Leffingwell's Boots (1905)
  • The Education of Mr. Pipp
  • Jim Delancey
  • The Embassy Ball
  • The Witching Hour (1907)
  • The Harvest Moon (1909)
  • As a Man Thinks (published 1911)
  • Indian Summer

Selected filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Moore, F., eds. (1905). "article name needed". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead. 
  • Hartnoll, Phyllis, ed. The Oxford Companion to the Theatre. 4th edition. London:Oxford UP, 1983. pps. 827–828.
  • Moody, Richard. "Augustus Thomas". in Banham, Martin, ed. The Cambridge Guide to Theatre, London:Cambridge UP, 1992.
  • Find-A-Grave biography

External links[edit]