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Alumni in the Theater: Clyde Fitch, Class of 1886
William Clyde Fitch (AC 1886), the prolific and highly successful playwright, was best known for plays of social satire and character study. He still holds the record for having four plays running concurrently on Broadway. He wrote and produced thirty-six original plays, twenty-one adaptations, and five dramatizations of novels in a twenty-year period. His works were produced throughout the United States and in Europe as well. The critic and scholar William Lyon Phelps wrote in 1921, "when [Fitch] began to write, American drama scarcely existed; when he died it was reality.... He did more for American drama than any other man in our history."
Clyde Fitch was born in Elmira, New York on May 2, 1865. At Amherst he was known among his classmates as "Billy" (after his given name William, which he later dropped) and was active in dramatic productions; his literary publications in college were mainly verse, including his Grove Oration speech in 1886. His first successful play, Beau Brummel (1890), was written especially for the actor Richard Mansfield. His comedies of the early 1900s, including The Climbers (1901), Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines (1901), The Girl with the Green Eyes (1902), The Truth (1907) and The City (1909), were the most popular of his works.
1885 Senior Dramatics: The Rivals by Sheridan
Tod Galloway as Mrs. Malaprop
1885 Senior Dramatics: The Country Girl by Wycherly (Adapted by Augustin Daly)
Clyde Fitch as Peggy Thrift
Entry from The Actor's Birthday Book (1907)
Clyde Fitch died on September 4, 1909,
one week after an operation for appendicitis
in Châlons-sur-Marne, France, at age 44.
Clyde Fitch in the library of his East 40th Street home, New York City.
Fitch was an avid collector of books, antiques and art, with which he filled his home at 113 East 40th St., New York City, as well as at his other homes at Katonah, New York, and Greenwich, Connecticut. The "Clyde Fitch Memorial Room" in Converse Hall at Amherst College was a gift to the College from Fitch's mother. It contained many of the furnishings and most of the books that were in his study in New York City.
Clyde Fitch's autograph book (click to open full size)
Clyde Fitch's poetry journal (click to open full size)
Barbara Frietchie (1900)
Major Andre (1903)
Page from Act I
Scenes from a 1903 production