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Alfred Hayes (writer)

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Alfred Hayes (18 April 1911 – 14 August 1985) was an American screenwriter, television writer, novelist, and poet, who worked in Italy as well as the United States. His well-known poem about "Joe Hill" ("I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night") was set to music by Earl Robinson, and performed by Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and many other artists.


Born in Whitechapel, London to a Jewish family that moved to the United States when he was three,[1] Hayes graduated from New York's City College (now part of City University of New York), worked briefly as a newspaper reporter, and began writing fiction and poetry in the 1930s. During World War II he served in Europe in the U.S. Army Special Services (the "morale division"). Afterwards, he stayed in Rome and became a screenwriter of Italian neorealist films.

His experience in Allied-occupied Rome served as the basis for his first two novels. All Thy Conquests (1947) is an episodic novel that follows several Americans and Italians over the course of a day in September 1944. The novel uses as its historical backdrop the massacre of the Fosse Ardeatine and the botched trial of fascist Pietro Caruso that devolved into a lynching, shocking the entire world.[2] His second novel, The Girl on the Via Flaminia (1949), revisits the setting of Allied-occupied Rome, but focuses on a single, failed romance between the American officer, Robert, and the Italian, Lisa, whom he pays to play his wife.

Hayes rewrote one of the episodes of All Thy Conquests as part of his work as a co-writer on Roberto Rossellini's Paisan (1946),[3] which earned him an Academy Award nomination; he received another Academy Award nomination for Teresa (1951). He was an uncredited co-writer of Vittorio De Sica's neorealist film Bicycle Thieves (1948) for which he also wrote the English language subtitles. He adapted The Girl on the Via Flaminia into a Broadway play in 1953, and that same year it was adapted into a French-language film Un acte d’amour and an English-language version, Act of Love.

Among his U.S. filmwriting credits are The Lusty Men (1952, directed by Nicholas Ray) and the film adaptation of the Maxwell Anderson/Kurt Weill musical Lost in the Stars (1974). His credits as a television scriptwriter included scripts for American series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, Nero Wolfe and Mannix.

Decades after Hayes' death in August 1985, 3 of his novels, In Love (1953), My Face for the World to See (1958), and The End of Me (1968) were given new editions under The New York Review of Books' Classics imprint. In Love and My Face for the World to See were re-released in July 2013 and The End of Me in June 2020.[4]



  • The Big Time (1944)
  • Welcome to the Castle (1950)
  • Just Before the Divorce (1968)
  • Joe Hill[5]


  • All Thy Conquests (1946)
  • Shadow of Heaven (1947)
  • The Girl on the Via Flaminia (1949)
  • In Love (1953)
  • My Face for the World to See (1958)
  • The End of Me (1968)
  • The Stockbroker, the Bitter Young Man, and the Beautiful Girl (1973)

Short stories[edit]

  • The Temptations of Don Volpi (1960)

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Alfred Hayes at the New York Review Books site; accessed July 16, 2013
  2. ^ "Rome Mob Lynches Fascist Official After Seizing Him in Open Court; Mob Seizes Fascist Prison Official in Rome Court Room". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
  3. ^ Escolar, Marisa (2019). Allied Encounters: The Gendered Redemption of World War II Italy. New York: Fordham University Press. ISBN 978-0823284504. OCLC 1048936675.
  4. ^ "Alfred Hayes". New York Review Books. Retrieved 2023-09-02.
  5. ^ Mitgang, Herbert (1985-08-15). "ALFRED HAYES, 74, A NOVELIST, POET AND SCREENPLAY WRITER". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-06-03.