Heywood Broun

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Heywood Broun
Heywood Broun.jpg
Heywood Broun (c. 1935)
Heywood Campbell Broun Jr.

(1888-12-07)December 7, 1888
DiedDecember 18, 1939(1939-12-18) (aged 51)
New York City, US
Alma materHarvard University
OccupationJournalist, sportswriter, columnist
Political partySocialist
(m. 1917; div. 1933)

Maria Dooley
(m. 1933)
ChildrenHeywood Hale Broun
AwardsJ. G. Taylor Spink Award (1970)

Heywood Campbell Broun Jr. (/ˈbrn/; December 7, 1888 – December 18, 1939) was an American journalist. He worked as a sportswriter, newspaper columnist, and editor in New York City. He founded the American Newspaper Guild, later known as The Newspaper Guild and now as The NewsGuild-CWA. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he is best remembered for his writing on social issues and his championing of the underdog. He believed that journalists could help right wrongs, especially social ills.


Broun was born in Brooklyn, the third of four children born to Heywood C. Broun and Henrietta Marie (née Brose) Broun.

He attended Harvard University, but did not earn a degree. He began his professional career writing baseball stories in the sports section of the New York Morning Telegraph. Broun worked at the New York Tribune from 1912–1921, rising to drama critic before transferring to the New York World (1921–28). While at the World, he started writing his syndicated column, It Seems to Me. In 1928, he moved to the Scripps-Howard newspapers, including the New York World-Telegram. His column was published there until Scripps-Howard abruptly decided not to renew his contract. He was then picked up by the New York Post. His only column appeared in that paper two days before his death.

As a drama critic, in 1917 Broun wrote about actor Geoffrey C. Stein in the controversial play The Awakening of Spring: "[...] Geoffrey Stein gave a ludicrously inadequate performance in the important role of Melchior. It was easily the worst performance we have ever seen on any stage."[1] Stein sued the New York Tribune and Broun; but in light of the judge's instructions, the jury decided for Broun.[2] Only a week later, Broun had to review a production with Stein in the cast. He simply wrote that Stein "was not up to his usual standard."[3]

An attributed line of lasting quotability, "Posterity is as likely to be wrong as anybody else", is used widely, often in arguments about documentation and history.[4]

From 1927 to 1937, Broun wrote a regular column, titled "It Seems to Heywood Broun", for the magazine The Nation. His column included criticism of another employer, the New York World, who fired Broun as a result. Broun later left The Nation for the rival The New Republic.[5]

In 1930, Broun unsuccessfully ran for Congress, as a Socialist. A slogan of Broun's was "I'd rather be right than Roosevelt."

In 1933, Broun, along with New York Evening Post Editor Joseph Cookman, John Eddy of The New York Times and Allen Raymond of the New York Herald Tribune, helped to found The Newspaper Guild. The Newspaper Guild sponsors an annual Heywood Broun Award for outstanding work by a journalist, especially work that helps correct an injustice.

Beginning February 8, 1933, Broun starred in a radio program, The Red Star of Broadway, on WOR in Newark, New Jersey. Broun was featured as "The Man About Town of Broadway." Sponsored by Macy's, the program also included musicians and minstrels.[6]

In 1938, Broun helped found the weekly tabloid Connecticut Nutmeg, soon renamed Broun's Nutmeg.[7]

Personal life[edit]

In 1915 he met Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova and they quickly became engaged. She broke off the relationship to rejoin the Ballets Russes in 1916.[8]

On June 7, 1917, Broun married writer-editor Ruth Hale, a feminist, who a few years later co-founded the Lucy Stone League, an organization that fought for women to keep their maiden names after marriage, in the manner of Lucy Stone. At their wedding, the columnist Franklin P. Adams characterized the usually easygoing Broun and the more strident Hale as "the clinging oak and the sturdy vine."[9] They had one son, Heywood Hale Broun.

Along with his friends the critic Alexander Woollcott, writer Dorothy Parker and humorist Robert Benchley, Broun was a member of the famed Algonquin Round Table from 1919 to 1929, where his usually dishevelled appearance led to him being likened to "an unmade bed." He was also close friends with the Marx Brothers, and attended their show The Cocoanuts more than 20 times. Broun joked that his tombstone would read, "killed by getting in the way of some scene shifters at a Marx Brothers show."

In November 1933 his wife obtained a divorce. In 1935 he married a widowed chorus girl named Maria Incoronata Fruscella Dooley (stage name Connie Madison).[7]

Seven months before his death in 1939, Broun, who had been an agnostic,[10] converted to Roman Catholicism following discussions with Fulton Sheen[11] and Fr. Edward Patrick Dowling, S.J.[12] Broun died of pneumonia, at age 51, in New York City. More than 3,000 mourners attended his funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York. Among them were New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, columnist Franklin Pierce Adams, actor-director George M. Cohan, playwright-director George S. Kaufman, New York World editor Herbert Bayard Swope, columnist Walter Winchell and actress Tallulah Bankhead.

Broun is buried in the Cemetery of the Gate of Heaven in Hawthorne, New York (about 25 miles north of New York City).


In 1970 the J. G. Taylor Spink Award was made to Heywood Broun by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.[13]

Broun was portrayed by the actor Gary Basaraba in the 1994 film Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle.[14]

In the first season of the Amazon television series Z: The Beginning of Everything, Broun is portrayed by the actor Tony Manna.[15]


  1. ^ Broun, Heywood (31 March 1917). "In the Play World - Injunction Needed for Poor Production of Gloomy Play by Wedekind". New York Tribune. p. 13. Retrieved 13 September 2021.
  2. ^ "Critic Upheld in Actor's Suit Charging Libel". New York Tribune. 15 February 1919. p. 13. Retrieved 13 September 2021.
  3. ^ Broun, Heywood. "Two on the Aisle" (May 1924). The Cosmopolitan. p. 69. Retrieved 13 September 2021.
  4. ^ Sitting on the World, New York: GP Putnam's Sons, 1924
  5. ^ vanden Heuvel, Katrina, ed. (1990). The Nation: 1865-1990. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press. p. 102. ISBN 1560250011.
  6. ^ "Macy's New Show" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 15, 1933. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  7. ^ a b Gale, Robert L. An F. Scott Fitzgerald Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998, p. 49
  8. ^ author., Mackrell, Judith (17 October 2013). Bloomsbury ballerina : Lydia Lopokova, imperial dancer and Mrs John Maynard Keynes. ISBN 978-1-78022-708-5. OCLC 893656800.
  9. ^ Broun, Heywood Hale. Whose Little Boy Are You?: A Memoir of the Broun Family. St. Martin's Press, 1983. p. 6
  10. ^ Feinberg, Louis. The Satirist. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2006, p. 157.
  11. ^ "Bishop Fulton Sheen: The First "Televangelist"". Time. 1952-04-14. Archived from the original on August 25, 2013. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
  12. ^ Amiri, Rachel. "Is Conversion Ever a Phone Call Away?". Where Peter Is. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  13. ^ Heywood Broun, Baseball Writers' Award from Baseball Hall of Fame
  14. ^ Internet Movie Database entry for Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle
  15. ^ Z Beginning


  • The A.E.F. (1918)
  • Our Army at the Front (1918)
  • The 51st Dragon (1919)
  • Seeing Things at Night (1921)
  • The Boy Grew Older (1922)
  • Pieces of Hate (1922)
  • The Sun Field (1923)
  • Sitting On The World (1924)
  • Gandle Follows His Nose (1926)
  • Anthony Comstock: Roundsman of the Lord (with Margaret Leech) (1927)
  • Christians Only: A Study in Prejudice (1931)
  • It Seems to Me (1935) —Collection of columns
  • Collected Edition (1941) —Collection of columns

Further reading[edit]

  • Everett F. Bleiler, The Checklist of Fantastic Literature. Chicago: Shasta Publishers, 1948; pg. 62.
  • Robert E. Drennan, The Algonquin Wits. [1968] Secaucus, NJ: Citadell Press, 1985.
  • John L. Lewis et al., Heywood Broun: As He Seemed to Us. New York: Random House/Newspaper Guild of New York, 1940.
  • Christopher Phelps, "Heywood Broun, Benjamin Stolberg, and the Politics of American Labor Journalism in the 1920s and 1930s," Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, vol. 15, no. 1 (March 2018), pp. 25–51.
  • The New York Times, "3,000 Mourn Broun at St. Patrick's Mass", Dec. 21, 1939, pg. 23.
  • The New York Times, "Newspaper Guild Begins to Function", Nov. 16, 1933.

External links[edit]