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W. Clyde Fitch (AC 1886) Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MA.00116

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, annotated play scripts, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, articles and photographs documenting the literary career, works, and personal life of Clyde Fitch (1865-1909), American dramatist and graduate of Amherst College in the Class of 1886. Correspondents include Robert Browning, Richard Harding Davis, William Dean Howells and William Lyon Phelps.

Dates

  • 1867-1986
  • Majority of material found within 1883 - 1909

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

There is no restriction on access to the W. Clyde Fitch (AC 1886) Collection for research use. Particularly fragile items are restricted for preservation purposes.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from the W. Clyde Fitch (AC 1886) Collection should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

W. Clyde Fitch (AC 1886) was a prolific and highly successful American playwright best known for plays of social satire and character study. Notable for having four of his plays running concurrently on Broadway, he went on to write and produce, in a twenty-year period, thirty-six original plays, twenty-one adaptations, and five dramatizations of novels. His name alone was enough to draw large audiences, and his works were produced throughout the United States and in Europe as well. He was the first American dramatist to be regularly produced abroad. The critic and scholar William Lyon Phelps wrote in 1921, "when [Fitch] began to write, American drama scarcely existed; when he died it was reality.... He did more for American drama than any other man in our history."

William Clyde Fitch was born in Elmira, New York on May 2, 1865. He spent part of his childhood in Schenectady, New York, and attended the Holderness School, Plymouth, New Hampshire, before attending Amherst College. At Amherst he was known among his classmates as "Billy" (after his given name William, which he later dropped) and was active in dramatic productions; his literary publications in college were mainly verse, including his Grove Oration speech in 1886. His first successful play, Beau Brummel (1890), was written especially for the actor Richard Mansfield. Subsequent plays of that period were largely melodramas and historical works that were less successful than his comedies of the early 1900s, including The Climbers (1901), Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines (1901), The Girl with the Green Eyes (1902), The Truth (1907) and The City (1909). However, the popularity of his works on the stage barely exceeded his own lifetime.

Fitch was an avid collector of books, antiques and art, with which he filled his home at 113 East 40th St., New York City (a residence that, for a time, was one of New York's most famous salons), as well as at his other homes at Katonah, New York; and Greenwich, Connecticut. The "Clyde Fitch Memorial Room" in Converse Hall at Amherst College was a gift to the College from Fitch's mother. It contained many of the furnishings and most of the books that were in his study in New York City.

Clyde Fitch died on September 4, 1909, one week after an operation for appendicitis in Châlons-sur-Marne, France, at age 44.

Extent

6.3 Linear feet (6 archives boxes, 3 records storage boxes, 3 oversize pamphlet binders)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Correspondence, annotated play scripts, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, articles and photographs documenting the literary career, works, and personal life of Clyde Fitch (1865-1909), American dramatist and graduate of Amherst College in the Class of 1886. Correspondents include Robert Browning, Richard Harding Davis, William Dean Howells and William Lyon Phelps.

Arrangement

This collection is organized into six series:
  1. Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1890-1986
  2. Series 2: Scrapbooks and Clippings, 1883-1920
  3. Series 3: Correspondence, 1882-1909
  4. Series 4: Writings, 1879-1910
  5. Series 5: Pictures and Photographs, 1867-1909
  6. Series 6: Personal Affairs, 1903-1907

Related Materials

  1. Published works of Clyde Fitch, located in Archives and Special Collections are searchable in the online catalog. (Copies of some titles are also available in the circulating collection.)
  2. Clyde Fitch personal library, housed in Archives and Special Collections and searchable in the online catalog.
  3. Alumni Biographical Files - 1886 - Fitch, Clyde
  4. Dramatic Activities Collection
  5. Buildings and Grounds Collection: for photographs of the Clyde Fitch Memorial Room, see section on Converse Memorial Library.
  6. Oil portrait of Clyde Fitch by Vittorio Guaccimanni, in Archives and Special Collections.
  7. Oil portrait of Clyde Fitch by Merritt Chase in Mead Art Museum, Amherst College [AC POR.1914.3].
  8. Items cataloged in the Objects Collection:
    • OB92-001-A Lamp
    • OB92-001-B Bulb for lamp
    • OB92-001-C Lampshade
    • OB92-002-A Lamp
    • OB92-002-B Bulb for lamp
    • OB92-002-C Lampshade
    • OB92-002-D Bulb gauntlet (spare) for lamp
    • OB92-449 Bookmark, painted fabric
    • OB92-567 Stand, wooden
    • OB92-568 Opera glasses and case
    • OB93-029 Clyde Fitch Room, Ceiling
    • OB93-030-A-C Clyde Fitch Room, Fireplace, mantel, painting
    • OB93-031 Clyde Fitch Room, Shelves
    • OB93-032 Clyde Fitch Room, Chest
    • OB93-033 Clyde Fitch Room, Table
    • OB93-034 Clyde Fitch Room, Upright chest
    • OB93-035 Clyde Fitch Room, Lap style desk box
    • OB93-036 Clyde Fitch Room, Table
    • OB93-037 Clyde Fitch Room, Desk
    • OB93-038 Clyde Fitch Room, Table
    • OB93-039 Clyde Fitch Room, Chest
    • OB93-040 Clyde Fitch Room, Candelabras
    • OB93-041 Clyde Fitch Room, Framed photograph
    • OB93-042-A-B Clyde Fitch Room, Table and cloth cover
    • OB93-043 Clyde Fitch Room, Rug
    • OB93-044 Clyde Fitch Room, Lamp and shade
    • OB93-045 Clyde Fitch Room, Chair
    • OB93-046 Clyde Fitch Room, Fireplace brush
Status
Completed
Author
Peter Nelson; revised by Rachel Jirka
Date
2007
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Sponsor
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000
(413) 542-2299