Charles Watson explores this field from its eighteenth- and nineteenth-century roots through the Southern Literary Renaissance and Tennessee Williams's triumphs to the plays of Horton Foote, winner of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize. Such well known modern figures as Lillian Hellman and DuBose Heyward earn fresh looks, as does Tennessee Williams's changing depiction of the South - from sensitive analysis to outraged indictment - in response to the Civil Rights movement. Two chapters devoted to drama by southern blacks begin with slave-born William Wells Brown, author of two plays as well as Clotelle, the first novel by an African American. Watson recognizes the trail-blazing plays of Zora Neale Hurston and closely examines the extensive output of Randolph Edmonds, author of forty-seven plays and a central force in encouraging black dramatic writing and production.
Charles S. Watson, professor emeritus of English at the University of Alabama, is the author of Antebellum Charleston Dramatists and From Nationalism to Secessionism: The Changing Fiction of William Gilmore Simms.