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CLYDE FITCH (1865-1909)

The following biography was originally published in The British and American Drama of Today. Barrett H. Clark. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1915. pp. 248-9.

Clyde Fitch was born at Elmira, New York, in 1865. He went to college at Amherst; immediately after his graduation he began writing: at first, light poems, then short stories and sketches. In 1890 he began his career as a dramatist with the romantic Beau Brummel, written for Richard Mansfield. He continued his successful career for nearly twenty years, dying in 1909, at Châlons-sur-Marne, in France.

Fitch was a clever and ingenious writer of comedies, picturing for the most part the life of the "upper classes" in New York. His facility, his power of observation of externals, his constant application to what was curious and amusing in life rather than what was significant, added to an inherent lack of concentration, prevented his being a man of genius. His ideas on the drama have been best expressed by himself: "I feel myself very strongly the particular value -- a value which, rightly or wrongly, I can't help feeling inestimable -- in a modern play, of reflecting absolutely and truthfully the life and environment about us; every class, every kind, every emotion, every motive, every occupation, every business, every idleness! Never was life so varied, so complex.... Take what strikes you most, in hope it will interest others; take what suits you most to do -- what perhaps you can do best, and then do it better. Be truthful, and then nothing can be too big, nothing should be too small, so long as it is here and there.... If you inculcate an idea into your play, so much the better for your play and for you and for your audience. In fact, there is a small hope for your play as a play, if you have not some idea in it, somewhere and somehow, even if it is hidden. It is sometimes better for you if it is hidden, but it must of course be integral.... One should write what one sees, but observe under the surface. It is a mistake to look at the reflection of the sky in the water of theatrical convention; instead, look up and into the sky of real life itself."