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DONALD OGDEN STEWART
Donald Ogden Stewart (1894-1980) began his literary career when the yet-unpublished F. Scott Fitzgerald found him a job at Vanity Fair. His first book, A Parody Outline of History (New York: Doran, 1921), was based on the popular Outline of History by H.G. Wells and was illustrated by Herb Roth. During the 1920s, Stewart provided the basis for two fictional characters. After meeting Ernest Hemingway in Paris in 1924, he and Hemingway traveled with a group of friends to Pamplona. The trip inspired Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, in which Stewart provided the basis for the character Bill Gorton. In 1928, Stewart also served as the inspiration for the character Nick Potter in Holiday, a play written by his friend Philip Barry. Stewart played the role of Potter on stage and later wrote the screenplay for the 1938 film of the same name. He is best known for The Philadelphia Story (1940), which won him an Oscar for Best Screenplay.
A letter from Donald Ogden Stewart to Lillian Hellman, May 7, 1939
Stewart's involvement in Hollywood was not limited to screenwriting. Beginning in the mid-1930s, he played an important role in the formation of various Popular Front movements, including the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League, the Motion Picture Artists Committee to Aid Republican Spain, and eventually the Screen Writer's Guild. This letter from Stewart to Lillian Hellman reflects the pair's involvement in securing collective bargaining rights for the Guild. Several years later, Stewart was blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee, and he and his wife lived the remainder of their lives in England.