Abraham Lincoln (play)

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The 1919 New York production with Frank McGlynn.

Abraham Lincoln is a somewhat fictionalized play by John Drinkwater about the 16th President of the United States. Drinkwater's first great success, it opened in England in 1918 and on Broadway in 1919.[1] In the New York production, the title role was played by Frank McGlynn.[2]


A rare depiction of events in the life of a U.S. President by a British playwright, the play was a great success in its day, produced on Broadway by William Harris Jr.[3] It was produced on radio by Orson Welles on August 15, 1938, on his program, The Mercury Theatre on the Air. In 1924, a two-reel sound film version of the play, also starring McGlynn, was filmed by Lee De Forest in his Phonofilm sound-on-film process. On May 26, 1952, the play was presented on television on the anthology series Studio One. The television version was notable for featuring actor James Dean in a small, but very noticeable role. The production has survived on kinescope, available at the Internet Archive.

In Czechoslovakia the play was broadcast on radio on November 8, 1937 (directed by Miloslav Jares, with Frantisek Salzer in the role of Abraham Lincoln).[4]

Drinkwater's play is rarely revived today. The play covers events in Lincoln's Presidency from his election in 1860 to his assassination, but leaves out most of the events in his private life.

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