Hatcher Hughes

Hatcher Hughes
Born (1881-02-12)12 February 1881
Polkville, North Carolina
Died 19 October 1945(1945-10-19) (aged 64)
New York City
Occupation Playwright
Years active 1918–1934
Spouse(s) Janet Ranney

Hatcher Hughes (12 February 1881, Polkville, North Carolina – 19 October 1945, New York City) was an American playwright who lived in Grover, NC, as featured in the book Images of America. He was on the teaching staff of Columbia University from 1912 onward. He was awarded the 1924 Pulitzer Prize for his 1922 play Hell-Bent Fer Heaven.

Early life and education

He was the tenth of eleven children of Andrew Jackson Hughes and Martha Jane Gold Hughes. He received both his undergraduate degree (1907) and master's degree (1909) in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Hell-bent fer Heaven (1924) was performed 122 times at the Klaw Theater (which later became the Avon and then CBS Theater #2). The play starred multiple Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner George Abbott (author of The Pajama Game, Fiorello, and Damn Yankees) and Clara Blandick (who played Auntie Em in The Wizard of Oz). It was made into a movie in 1926.

Other noted authors of plays and friends at the Klaw stage during Hughes's time were George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde. Hughes was a professor at Columbia University. A UNC graduate, he returned often to NC to speak and provide insight on Broadway. His detailed correspondence from New York to North Carolina and his mother provides a wealth of information to this day for Silver Screen researchers and archivists at the University of North Carolina.


In 1930 he married Janet Ranney Cool. The marriage produced a daughter, Ann Ranney Hughes. During the First World War, he served as an Army captain. He and his family divided their time between their home in New York City and their farm in West Cornwall, Connecticut.


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