UND Today

University of North Dakota’s Official News Source

UND will be recognized as N.D.’s first Literary Landmark

Designation will recognize UND alum and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Maxwell Anderson (1888-1959)

The University of North Dakota has been designated as North Dakota’s first Literary Landmark, honoring the late Maxwell Anderson, 1911 graduate (BA in Literature) and 1933 Pulitzer Prize winner in Drama.

The Theatre and English departments at UND will honor Anderson and the new designation with two events. The first will be on Thursday, March 24 at 2 p.m. at Burtness Theatre, with a plaque ceremony dedicated to Mr. Anderson’s time at the University and his career. Speakers will include President Andrew Armacost, Provost Eric Link, Maxwell L. Anderson (grandson of Maxwell Anderson, and himself a noted art historian, author and nonprofit executive) and UND Alumni Association and Foundation CEO DeAnna Carlson Zink.

Terry Dullum will host a talk with UND alumnus Joel Vig and a showing of “The Bad Seed,” the 1956 film based on Anderson’s play of the same name. This discussion and showing will be at the Empire Arts Center at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 27.

Both events are free and open to all.

While at UND, Anderson was active in the Sock and Buskin Society (Theatre) and was involved with several productions on campus. He also worked as a journalist for the Grand Forks Herald while attending school. In 1958 he penned “Love Letter to a University” on the occasion of UND’s 75th anniversary. It can be found in the collections of the Chester Fritz Library, and is a reminiscence of the campus at a time when “the trees … were saplings, too slender to cast a shadow or break the wind.”

After graduation, Anderson went on to be an educator and a journalist for the San Francisco Evening Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Globe and New York World.

Anderson was best known as a dramatist, writing more than 30 plays and 30 films and adaptations during his career. He won the 1933 Pulitzer Prize in Drama for his play, “Both Your Houses.” He was also awarded the Gold Medal in Drama from the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1954. He worked as a lyricist in collaboration with Kurt Weill on 1938’s musical “Knickerbocker Holiday.” His last play, “The Bad Seed,” was an adaptation of William March’s novel. It ran on Broadway for 334 performances, and was featured in LIFE Magazine in addition to being made into a film.

Anderson was awarded two honorary doctorates: one from Columbia University in 1946 in Literature and from UND in 1958 in Humanities. He died in 1959 at age 70.