George Jean Nathan

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George Jean Nathan (born February 14, 1882 in Fort Wayne , Indiana , † April 8, 1958 in New York ) was an American theater critic , writer and editor.



Originally, Nathan was tutored at home. When his father left the family, his mother took him to Cleveland , Ohio , where he went to high school . Nathan graduated from Cornell University , where he was a master fencer and was a member of the Quill and Dagger fraternity. He also edited the college newspaper Sun and Widow , a university humor magazine. After graduation, Nathan began working as a reporter for the New York Herald , which his uncle kept free for him.

Next life

Dissatisfied with his day-to-day work as a reporter, he left the newspaper publisher and began writing for various magazines. As a result, he earned his reputation as a theater critic. In 1908 he wrote reviews for The Smart Set and met Henry L. Mencken . Both became friends and in 1914 jointly took over the chief editor. In 1924 they published The American Mercury magazine . Nathan was also the founder and editor of American Spectator (1932-1935) .

Through his numerous reviews of the Broadway shows, he earned hatred and contempt in the scene. Nevertheless, he was able to develop a good relationship with Eugene O'Neill and Seán O'Casey , as he promoted their reputation.

Nathan gained the image of a womanizer over time . So he had relationships with numerous actresses. His most famous was the one with actress Lillian Gish , who left him after learning of his previously hidden Jewish origins. In 1955 he married the much younger Julie Haydon .

Nathan died in New York in 1958 at the age of 76.

George Jean Nathan Award

The George Jean Nathan Award is a theater criticism award and was launched by its namesake.


Nathan wrote over 40 books. Almost all of them are collections of his reviews. Some of the most important are:

  • The Critic and the Drama , 1922 ( ISBN 0-8386-7964-1 )
  • The Autobiography of an Attitude , 1925
  • The Intimate Notebooks of George Jean Nathan , 1932

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