BROOKLYN COLLEGE ARCHIVES AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS
The Papers of Irwin Shaw
Accession Number 92-036
Irwin Shaw was born in the Bronx in 1913. He grew up in Brooklyn
and attended Brooklyn College, graduating with a BA in 1934. A prolific
writer, Shaw published five plays, eighty-four short stories, and twelve
novels, including the best-selling Rich Man, Poor Man. During his
lifetime he also wrote screen plays and as a young man wrote scripts for
two popular radio serials.
His writing career appears to have begun in the early 1930s when, as
a Brooklyn College student he wrote for the school newspaper and edited
the yearbook. His first play, Bury the Dead, opened in 1936 at the
Ethel Barrymore Theater. The play received sensational reviews that
brought Shaw acclaim as a promising young playwrite. During the period
of the mid 1930s to the early 1940s Shaw penned a variety of short stories
and plays, and was invited to Hollywood to work as a screenwriter (1936).
In 1939 Shaw married the young actress Marian Edwards whom he had met
in Hollywood, and in 1942 he entered the army. His experiences in
the army provided material for several short stories as well as the novel
The Young Lions (1948). The Young Lions was followed in 1951 by the
best-selling novel The Troubled Air. During the 50's Shaw's writing,
including Lucy Crown met with much commercial success, but by the 1960s
his critical reputation had suffered, as his novels were unfavorably compared
to his earlier short stories. His marriage had failed by 1967, but
during the next decade he produced some of his most popular novels, including
Rich Man, Poor Man.
By the mid 1970s, Shaw was drinking heavily and his health was deteriorating.
He and Marian reconciled and remarried in 1982, but he died in May of 1984
of prostate cancer.
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