Edward Sheldon

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Edward Sheldon
Edward Sheldon in 1914
Edward Sheldon in 1914
Born(1886-02-04)February 4, 1886
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedApril 1, 1946(1946-04-01) (aged 60) (lymphatic cancer)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Alma materHarvard College

Edward Brewster Sheldon (February 4, 1886, in Chicago, Illinois – April 1, 1946, in New York City) was an American dramatist. His plays include Salvation Nell (1908) and Romance (1913), which was made into a motion picture with Greta Garbo.

After becoming ill at age 29 with crippling rheumatoid arthritis, which eventually claimed his sight (around 1930), Sheldon became a source of emotional and creative support for his many friends, notably Minnie Maddern Fiske (he wrote Salvation Nell for her), Julia Marlowe, John Barrymore (his closest friend and confidante), Thornton Wilder, Alexander Woollcott, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Ruth Gordon, Helen Hayes. While in hospital his advice was received by those in the theatrical profession as gospel. Actress and librettist Dorothy Donnelly formed a close friendship with Sheldon, and after he became bedridden often assisted with transcribing, editing, and supporting his work.

In May 1915 Sheldon narrowly missed sailing on the Lusitania's infamous last voyage. He had been asked by theater impresario Charles Frohman to accompany him to England. A Harvard classmate of Sheldon's was getting married on May 11 and asked Sheldon to be best man. Sheldon then declined Frohman's offer.

A 1936 lawsuit against Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for copyright infringement claimed that the script MGM used for the 1932 motion picture Letty Lynton plagiarized material from the play Dishonored Lady by Sheldon and Margaret Ayer Barnes. After being heard before various courts, the case ended up before the Supreme Court of the United States as Sheldon v. Metro-Goldwyn Pictures Corp.; in 1940 the Supreme Court awarded a fifth of the profits.[1] The film is still unavailable today because of this lawsuit.[citation needed]

His life is detailed in The Man Who Lived Twice by Eric Wollencott Barnes. In this biography Barnes states that Sheldon was in love all his adult life with Doris Keane, the actress who starred in Romance in 1913.

Minnie Maddern Fiske and Frederick Perry in The High Road (1912)



  • Barnes, Eric. The Man Who Lived Twice. New York: Scribner, 1956. OCLC 458626002

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