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Jerome Lawrence (1915–2004)

Author of Inherit the Wind

21+ Works 3,528 Members 44 Reviews 1 Favorited

About the Author

Jerome Lawrence was born July 14, 1915, in Cleveland, Ohio, into a literary family. As a teenager, Jerome Lawrence studied writing with Eugene C. Davis. After graduating from Glenville High School in Cleveland in 1933, Lawrence went on to study with Harlan Hatcher, Herman Miller, and Robert Newdick show more at Ohio State University. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Ohio State in 1937. Between 1937 and 1939, Lawrence was a graduate student at the Universty of California at Los Angeles. Together, Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee have written famous works of American drama, including Inherit the Wind, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, and Auntie Mame. For their work as playwrights, they have won two Peabody Awards, the Variety Critics Poll Award, multiple Tony Award nominations, and many more awards. Both Lawrence and Lee were fundamentally shaped by their participation in World War II. Staff Sergeant Lawrence served as a consultant to the Secretary of War and later as an Army correspondent in North Africa and Italy. In addition to his service in themilitary, he worked as a journalist, reporter, and telegraph editor of small Ohio daily papers and as a continuity editor at KMPC in Beverly Hills. Before World War II, he had worked from 1939 to 1941, as a senior staff writer for CBS Radio, experience that became useful when he and Lee founded Armed Forces Radio. Lawrence's interest in drama extends back to his high school and college days, when he acted in and directed school and summer theater productions. Working together on Armed Forces Radio, Lawrence and Lee produced the official Army-Navy radio programs for D-Day, VE-Day, and VJ-Day. After the war, they created radio programs for CBS, including the series "Columbia Workshop." They also co-wrote radio plays including The Unexpected in 1951, Song of Norway in 1957, Shangri-La in 1960, a radio version of Inherit the Wind in 1965, and Lincoln the Unwilling Warrior in 1974. Inherit the Wind earned Lawrence and Lee numerous awards in the year after its production. The play won the Donaldson Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Variety New York Drama Critics Poll Award, and the Critics Award for Best Foreign Play and was nominated for a Tony Award. Since its publication, the play has been translated into thirty languages. Lawrence and Lee's excellence in theatre has been rewarded by the Ohioana Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Theatre Assocation, and a number of honorary degrees. Lawrence is the recipient of honorary doctorates from Villanova, the College of Wooster, Farleigh Dickinson University, and Ohio State University. Together, Lawrence and Lee have won numerous Tony nominations, in two separate instances keys to the city of Cleveland, the Moss Hart Memorial Award for Plays of a Free World, a US State Department Medal, an Ohio State Centennial Medal, a Pegasus Award, the Ohio Governor's Award, and a Cleveland Playhouse Plaque. Lawrence was a visiting professor at Ohio State and a master playwright at New York University, Baylor University, and the Salzburg Seminar in American studies. He died in 2004 from complications from a stroke. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Courtesy of the NYPL Digital Gallery (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

Works by Jerome Lawrence

Associated Works

Inherit the Wind [1960 film] (1951) — Original play — 114 copies
Best American Plays: Fourth Series, 1951-1957 (1958) — Contributor — 43 copies
Mame [1974 film] (1991) — Original play — 40 copies
America on Stage : Ten Great Plays of American History (1976) — Contributor — 22 copies
Inherit the Wind [1999 TV movie] (1999) — Original play — 5 copies


2009-2010 (9) 20th century (35) American (37) American drama (14) American literature (41) Christianity (13) civil disobedience (12) classic (42) classics (53) creationism (30) drama (295) evolution (99) fiction (164) historical (19) historical fiction (56) history (27) law (37) literature (40) musical (10) non-fiction (9) On Shelf (14) own (12) paperback (16) play (173) plays (192) politics (13) read (38) religion (46) school (11) science (35) Scopes Trial (43) script (35) Tennessee (18) theatre (105) Thoreau (11) to-read (79) transcendentalism (9) trial (16) unread (10) USA (9)

Common Knowledge



What makes _Inherit the Wind_ a memorable play is not that it skewers Christian fundamentalism - instead it goes after all of those who are too narrowminded to see an issue from another's point of view. This is demonstrated in the character of Hornbeck, a big city reporter who looks down his nose at the both the rubes of Hillsboro and the passion of Matthew Brady. This play is not a pro-evolution screed; rather, it is a testament to the importance of open-mindedness.
jonbrammer | 29 other reviews | Jul 1, 2023 |
This is the novelized Scopes Monkey Trial. My copy was written in play format. The Scopes Trial was the landmark case most people would say about teaching evolution in school. The real purpose of the case was to decide WHO controlled the schools, the local school board or the State. Evolution was just the vehicle through which control would be established. Of course, names and places were changed, but it would be obvious to anyone who has studied this case who the principal players were. Good reading if one is interested in the topic; if not, would probably bore you. There have been several famous movies made from this event with stars such as Jason Robards, Spencer Tracy, and George C. Scott. I like the non-fiction version best! 144 pages… (more)
Tess_W | 29 other reviews | Jun 15, 2023 |
A courtroom drama about the struggle to bring an important scientific concept to the shoolrooms of the USA, not a milieu renowned for being an intellectual frontier. Of course there is also a conflict between two politicians one more given to derive his position from emotions and rhetoric, while the other is more a truth seeker. the audience of the play is far morer the jury than the players on the stage. It was of course made into a powerful movie in the 1960's and has had stage revivals, and TV versions ever since.… (more)
DinadansFriend | 29 other reviews | Dec 10, 2022 |
Excellent classic. It is unfortunate how timely the message of this play still remains. As Eugene Robinson recently wrote, the anti-science crowd is careening into "lip-blubbering, self-destructive idiocy."
wahoo8895 | 29 other reviews | Nov 20, 2022 |



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