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Adams, Franklin Pierce


ADAMS, FRANKLIN PIERCE (1881–1960), U.S. newspaper columnist known by his byline "F.P.A." and noted for his wit and erudition. Born in Chicago, he started his daily column "The Conning Tower" in the New York Tribune in 1914. It appeared successively in the World, the Herald-Tribune, and the Post.

A member of the illustrious Algonquin Round Table, Adams lunched every day in the 1920s and 1930s at a round table at New York City's Algonquin Hotel with a group of some of the most brilliant writers of that period. They traded quips and critiques, many of them still repeated today. The group was formed at the suggestion of Dorothy *Parker, who was living in the Algonquin Hotel at the time. There was no formal membership, so people came and went, but the primary early members included Parker, Adams, Robert Benchley, Alexander Woollcott, George S. *Kaufman, Edna *Ferber, and Harpo *Marx. Others visited as well, including actors and entertainers such as Douglas Fairbanks, George *Gershwin, Irving *Berlin, Jascha *Heifitz, Moss *Hart, Budd *Schulberg, and Oscar *Hammerstein. But most of the Round Table members were critics. Outspoken and outrageous, they would exchange ideas and gossip, which found their way into Adams' "Conning Tower" column in the Tribune the next day. Though society columns referred to them as the Algonquin Round Table, they called themselves the Vicious Circle. "By force of character," observed drama critic Brooks Atkinson, "they changed the nature of American comedy and established the tastes of a new period in the arts and theater."

Adams' epigrams, verse, and parodies were reprinted extensively, and his weekly Diary of Our Own Samuel Pepys is regarded as historical source material. His appearances on Information Please on radio and tv (1939–52) had a large following.

[Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

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