Brian Hooker (poet)

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Brian Hooker
Born William Brian Hooker
(1880-11-02)November 2, 1880
New York City, New York
United States
Died December 28, 1946(1946-12-28) (aged 66)
New London, Connecticut, U.S.
Nationality American
Education Yale University
Occupation Poet, playwright
Known for Cyrano de Bergerac (1923)
The Vagabond King (1925)
Parent(s) Elizabeth Work
William Augustus Hooker
Relatives Thomas Hooker

William Brian Hooker (November 2, 1880 – December 28, 1946) was an American poet, educator, lyricist, and librettist. He was born in New York City, the son of Elizabeth Work and William Augustus Hooker, who was a mining engineer for the New York firm of Hooker and Lawrence. His family was well known in Hartford, Connecticut having descended from Thomas Hooker, a prominent Puritan religious and colonial leader who founded the Colony of Connecticut.[1]

Hooker attended Yale College in the class of 1902, where he was a writer,[2] editor and business manager for campus humor magazine The Yale Record.[3] He was an editor of the Yale Record collection Yale Fun (1901).[4] He died in New London, Connecticut, aged 66.

Cyrano de Bergerac, large-nosed poet and duelist known for his "panache"


Hooker's poetry was published in The Century Magazine, The Forum, Hampton's Magazine, Harper's Magazine, McClure's Magazine, Scribner's Magazine, Smart Set, and the Yale Review.[5]

Hooker co-wrote the libretto and lyrics for Rudolf Friml's 1925 operetta The Vagabond King, and is noted for his 1923 English translation of Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac, especially prepared for actor Walter Hampden. The translation, written in blank verse rather than the Alexandrines of the original play, was highly acclaimed as being one of the finest translations of a play in verse into English,[citation needed] and for many years, until Anthony Burgess' translation was published, was virtually the only English rendition of the play used. An unusual aspect of Hooker's translation is that it never uses the word panache at all, perhaps because Hooker realized that its double meaning in the play's final scene is untranslatable into English – the word means plume in French in addition to its usual definition, which is, roughly, bravery or daring.

José Ferrer played Cyrano in a highly acclaimed 1946 Broadway version of the play which used this translation, winning a Tony Award for his performance. At the same time, Ralph Richardson was also appearing as Cyrano in a London production of the play, again using this translation. Ferrer then won an Oscar as Best Actor for the 1950 film adaptation, which used the same translation.



  1. ^ TheDescendants of Rev. Thomas Hooker 1586-1908
  2. ^ Bronson, Francis W., Thomas Caldecott Chubb, and Cyril Hume, eds. (1922) The Yale Record Book of Verse: 1872-1922. New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 13-14, 54-57.
  3. ^ "William Brian Hooker". Obituary Record of Graduates Of Yale University: Deceased During the Year 1946-1947. New Haven: Yale University. January 1, 1948. p. 63.
  4. ^ Hastings, Wells, Brian Hooker, and Henry Ely, eds. (1901) Yale Fun. New Haven: Yale Record. p. 1.
  5. ^ Poems, Yale University Press 1915, p. iv.


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