The Maxwell Anderson Scholarship
in Medieval and Renaissance Literature
Maxwell Anderson was a giant of the twentieth-century American theater, a playwright whose dramas soared on blank verse, exploring the many ways that love can connect across time, across alternate realities, across any of the innumerable gulfs that separate one human spirit from another.
In the 1950s, Anderson was approached by financier L. Stanley Kahn, who had been captivated by the case of Richard III after reading Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time and who set out on a three-year course of research into contemporary English sources. Kahn was looking for someone to dramatize a revisionist characterization of Richard III to counter the Shakespearean influence.
The result was Richard and Anne, a blank verse play written by Maxwell Anderson in 1956. Unpublished and unproduced during his lifetime, it captured the attention of former American Branch chair Roxane C. Murph. Murph had been a student and admirer of Anderson’s work since first encountering it in high school. Author of the popular historiographical survey,Richard III: The Making of a Legend Murph found two of her research interests joined in a single document.
Years of study and persistence were rewarded by the publication, in February 1995, of Maxwell Anderson’s Richard and Anne, edited and with an introduction by Roxane C. Murph, by McFarland Press, available from our sales office. The American Branch’s share of the royalties from this publication are being used to establish a new scholarship fund: The Maxwell Anderson Scholarship in Medieval and Renaissance Literature.
” The treatment of Richard III at the hands of the historians has been profoundly affected by the impact of literary and dramatic treatments of his story, ” Murph commented. ” While it continues to be important to study the history of the fifteenth century, the study of the literary traditions that gave birth to Richard’s malignant reputation should not be overlooked. ” Murph sees the establishment of this new scholarship fund as a way to celebrate the life and work of Maxwell Anderson while furthering the study of the literary afterlife of Richard III.
The American Branch hopes to be able to award one $500 Maxwell Anderson Scholarship annually in the near future, with any additional contributions being held to build an endowed fund to sustain the program. Contributions to the scholarship fund are warmly welcomed.