There Shall Be No Night

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There shall be no night.JPG
Charles Scribner's Sons original dust jacket for the 1940 print edition of There Shall Be No Night
Genre Theater
ISBN N/A for first edition

There Shall Be No Night is a three-act play written by American playwright Robert E. Sherwood. The play was presented by the Theatre Guild from April 29 through November 2, 1940, at Broadway's Alvin Theatre (now renamed the Neil Simon Theater).[1] It won the 1941 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The play is set in Finland between 1938 and 1940 and concerns a Nobel Prize-winning Finnish scientist (portrayed by Alfred Lunt whose own stepfather was a Finnish-born physician) and his American-born wife (portrayed by Lynn Fontanne), both of whom are reluctant to believe that the Russians will invade their beloved Finland. But with the final advent of Finland's Winter War with the Soviets, their son Erik (Montgomery Clift) joins the Finnish army; and the scientist himself joins its medical corps. John Mason Brown wrote, “No one can complain about the theatre's being an escapist institution when it conducts a class in current events at once as touching, intelligent and compassionate as 'There Shall Be No Night'.”[2]

According to William L. Shirer, Sherwood was inspired to write the play by William Lindsay White's moving Christmas broadcast from the Finnish front during the Winter War. The son of journalist William Allen White, the younger White had been sent there by the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) to report on that war.[3] Sherwood bases his American journalist (portrayed by Richard Whorf) in this play upon W. L. White himself, substantiating this in his preface to the first published edition by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1940.[4]:xxx

Title comes from a passage in the Book of Revelation (22:5) which is quoted by Lunt's character in Act 3, Scene 6: There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light...[4]:150

Actress Katharine Cornell seventeen years later produced and starred in an NBC television version of the play in 1957 on The Hallmark Hall of Fame with Charles Boyer, Bradford Dillman and Ray Walston. This TV version was reset in Hungary in 1956 (changing the names from their original Finnish) in order to reflect current events in the same way that its original had done.[5]


Sherwood, Robert E. (1940). There Shall Be No Night. Kessinger Publishing LLC (2005). ISBN 0-678-02773-0. 

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