Bigsby, C(hristopher) W(illiam) E(dgar) 1941- (Christopher Bigsby)

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BIGSBY, C(hristopher) W(illiam) E(dgar) 1941-
(Christopher Bigsby)


PERSONAL: Born June 27, 1941, in Dundee, Scotland; son of Edgar Edward Leo and Ivy (Hopkins) Bigsby; married Pamela Lovelady, October 9, 1965; children: Gareth, Kirsten, Juliet, Ewan. Education: University of Sheffield, B.A., 1962, M.A., 1964; University of Nottingham, Ph.D., 1966.

ADDRESSES: Home—3 Church Farm, Colney, Norwich, Norfolk, England. Offıce—Department of English, University of East Anglia, Norwich, England; fax: 00-44-1603-507728. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, lecturer in American literature, 1966-69; University of East Anglia, Norwich, England, lecturer, 1969-73, senior lecturer, 1973-85, professor of American literature, 1985—. British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC), presenter of radio arts programs Kaleidoscope, Third Ear, and Off the Page, and the radio arts program Meridian for BBC World Service.

MEMBER: Royal Society of Literature (fellow), British Association of American Studies.


WRITINGS:


nonfiction


Confrontation and Commitment: A Study of Contemporary American Drama, 1959-1966, MacGibbon & Kee (London, England), 1967, University of Missouri Press (Columbia, MO), 1968.

Edward Albee, Oliver & Boyd (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1969, published as Albee, Chip's Bookshop (New York, NY), 1978.

Dada and Surrealism, Methuen (New York, NY), 1972.

Tom Stoppard, Longmans, Green (London, England), 1976.

The Second Black Renaissance: Essays in Black Literature, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1980.

Joe Orton, Methuen (New York, NY), 1982.

A Critical Introduction to Twentieth-Century AmericanDrama, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), Volume 1: 1900-1940, 1982, Volume 2: Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Edward Albee, 1985, Volume 3: Beyond Broadway, 1985.

David Mamet, Methuen (New York, NY), 1985.

(As Christopher Bigsby) Contemporary AmericanPlaywrights, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1999.


novels; as christopher bigsby


Hester: A Novel about the Heroine of the Scarlet Letter, Penguin (New York, NY), 1994.

Pearl, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1995.

Still Lives, Constable (London, England), 1996.

Beautiful Dreamer, Methuen (New York, NY), 2002.


editor


Superculture: American Popular Culture and Europe, Bowling Green University Popular Press (Bowling Green, OH), 1975.

The Black American Writer, two volumes, Everett/Edwards (DeLand, FL), 1969.

Three Negro Plays, Penguin (New York, NY), 1969.

Edward Albee: A Collection of Critical Essays, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1975.

Approaches to Popular Culture, Edward Arnold (Baltimore, MD), 1976.

Contemporary English Drama, Edward Arnold (Baltimore, MD), 1981.

(As Christopher Bigsby, with Heide Ziegler) The Radical Imagination and the Liberal Tradition: Interviews with English and American Novelists, Junction Books (London, England), 1982.

(With Maurice Connaud and Sergio Perosa) CulturalChange in the United States since World War II, Free University Press (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1986.

Plays by Susan Glaspell, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1987.

Miller on File, Methuen (New York, NY), 1988.

(As Christopher Bigsby) Arthur Miller and Company:Arthur Miller Talks about His Work, Methuen (New York, NY), 1990.

The Portable Arthur Miller, Penguin (New York, NY), 1995, revised edition, 2003.

Nineteenth-Century American Short Stories, Dent (London, England), 1995.

(As Christopher Bigsby) The Cambridge Companion to Arthur Miller, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1997.

(As Christopher Bigsby, with Don B. Wilmeth) TheCambridge History of American Theater, Volume 1: Beginnings to 1870, Volume 2: 1870-1945, Volume 3: Post-World War II to the 1990s, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1998-2000.

Modern American Drama: 1945-2000, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Writers in Conversation with Christopher Bigsby, two volumes, Arthur Miller Centre, University of East Anglia (Norwich, England), 2001.

(As Christopher Bigsby) Cambridge Companion toDavid Mamet, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

(As Christopher Bigsby) Arthur Miller: A CriticalStudy, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2004.


Also coauthor of television plays The After-Dinner Game and Stones, of radio series Patterson, and of television documentaries on John Steinbeck and Arthur Miller, all for British Broadcasting Corp. General coeditor of "Contemporary Writers" series for Methuen (New York, NY).

SIDELIGHTS: British academic and author C. W. E. Bigsby incorporates his interest in the literature of twentieth-century America as an educator as well in the books he both writes and edits. Calling Bigsby "one of the most supportive academic critics of American theatre" in Modern Drama, Melanie Blood added that in Contemporary American Playwrights in particular the author advocates a greater appreciation of a number of lesser-known authors, among them Lanford Wilson, Tony Kushner, and Wendy Wasserstein. Blood praised Bigsby for bringing to his work a sensitivity "to the many contemporary American social issues that preoccupy current playwrights and audiences," counting among those issues "gender, sexuality," and "class." In addition to writing in-depth critical works on the high-profile U.S. playwrights Joe Orton, David Mamet, and Tom Stoppard, Bigsby is also the author of the three-volume Critical Introduction to Twentieth-Century Drama, published by Cambridge University Press and designed as an overview of U.S. theatre appropriate for the undergraduate student and general reading public.

In The Second Black Renaissance: Essays in Black Literature, Bigsby covers the work of black New Yorkers in the 1960s and early 1970s, and draws parallels with the artistic outpouring that occurred in Harlem during the 1920s. "An intellectual history, this is work of the first order," reported William S. McFeely in the Times Literary Supplement. "Bigsby is neither the guilt-ridden observer who would elevate any black writer into a speaker of a special kind of truth, nor a patronizing one who would subtly convey surprise that black folk can write at all. To be critical is to take seriously, and few books in the field of black cultural history can match the truly critical perspective achieved by the present work." Among the many books edited by Bigsby are several that also touch on Black theatre, among them The Black American Writer and Three Negro Plays, both of which were released in 1969.

Bigsby told CA: "For many years America has been the focus of my work. As an academic I have tended, in recent years, to concentrate on American drama. I am at the moment concluding a biography of Arthur Miller. As a novelist, the American influence is equally clear. My first two books, Hester: A Novel about the Heroine of the Scarlet Letter and Pearl, were, respectively, a 'prequel' and a sequel to Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. The third novel, Still Lives, was inspired by my opening of an exhibition of the photographs of Lee Miller, though I chose to depart from the details of her life. The fourth novel, Beautiful Dreamer, came out of nowhere and is set, vaguely, in the 1950s, and, vaguely, in Tennessee.

"What interests me is a blend of the lyrical with the sometimes violent and bleak. Language, indeed, is in part the source of redemption. This is at its most obvious in Beautiful Dreamer but is also true, I think, of Still Lives."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:


periodicals


Booklist, September 1, 1994.

Choice, February, 2000, M. D. Whitlatch, review of The Cambridge History of American Theater, p. 1113; December, 2000, M. D. Whitlatch, review of The Cambridge History of American Theater, p. 718; July-August, 2001, R. B. Shuman, review of Modern American Drama: 1945-2000, p. 1956.

History: Review of New Books, fall, 2000, Amy Henderson, review of The Cambridge History of American Theater, p. 6.

Journal of American History, March, 2000, Kim Marra, review of The Cambridge History of American Theater, p. 1772.

Journal of American Studies, December, 2001, David J. Evans, review of Contemporary American Playwrights, p. 528; December, 2001, Kate Rhodes, review of The Cambridge History of American Theater, p. 538.

Modern Drama, fall, 2000, Barry B. Witham, review of The Cambridge History of American Theater, p. 496; summer, 2001, Melanie Blood, review of Contemporary American Playwrights, p. 367; winter, 2001, David Krasner, review of The Cambridge History of American Theater, p. 491.

Nineteenth-Century Literature, March, 2001, review of The Cambridge History of American Theater, p. 565.

Notes and Queries, March, 2001, Dave Williams, review of Contemporary American Playwrights, p. 91.

Review of English Studies, August, 2000, Jean Chothia, review of The Cambridge History of American Theater, p. 504.

Theatre History Studies, June, 2000, Felicia Hardison Londre, review of The Cambridge History of American Theater, p. 175; June, 2001, Daniel J. Watermeier, review of The Cambridge History of American Theater, p. 139.

Theatre Journal, October, 2000, Rosemarie K. Bank and Kim Marra, review of The Cambridge History of American Theater, p. 427. Theatre Research International, March, 2002, Adam Piette, review of Contemporary American Playwrights and Modern American Drama, p. 106; March, 2002, Michael Whitlatch, review of The Cambridge History of American Theater, p. 103.

Theatre Survey, May, 2000, Odai Johnson, review of The Cambridge History of American Theater, p. 95.

Times Literary Supplement, February 26, 1970, review of Edward Albee; September 25, 1981, William S. McFeely, review of The Second Black Renaissance: Essays in Black Literature; September 3, 1982; May 12, 2000, Elaine Showalter, review of Contemporary American Playwrights, p. 10.

Voice Literary Supplement, November, 1994, p. 88.

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Bigsby, C(hristopher) W(illiam) E(dgar) 1941- (Christopher Bigsby)

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