From the 20 January 1920 issue of The New York Times.

DRINKWATER TO PUT R. E. LEE INTO A PLAY

Author of “Abraham Lincoln” Also to Complete a Trilogy with John Brown for a Motif.


TO BE WRITTEN IN ENGLAND


Author Will Not Visit Scenes of Mementous Events He Aims to Portray on the Stage.

John Drinkwater, author of the play, “Abraham Lincoln,” expects to have a companion piece ready by the end of the year, dealing with the life of General Robert E. Lee, the famous Southern commander. To complete a trilogy he hopes to do another play using John Brown, the abolitionist, as the central figure.

Mr. Drinkwater said yesterday that he could speak of the Lee play only in the most general terms. While he has not yet put pen to paper the subject is vivid in his mind. A play about the leader of a lost cause is always of interest, he said.

The play is to be done in the same manner as the Lincoln play, restricting itself to clearness of ourline and conception rather than to a mass of details. “In so far as I have achieved clearness of outline in the Lincoln play,” he added by way of parenthesis.

Mr. Drinkwater is much interested in the mental complex of the Southern leader when making his great decision. Then the fact that Lee was an aristocrat in contrast to the humble lineage of Lincoln also stimulates his desire to do the play. He intends to present fairly the other side of the shield. To do so the author will have the play move during the same period as the Lincoln play.

While he is appreciative of the kindnesses offered him by some who know of his desire to write a play of General Lee, Mr. Drinkwater will not avail himself of the opportunity to visit the historic places associated with the name of the Southern leader. Just as soon as he can clear up some urgent work in this country he will return to England. In his own home, with the materials used in preparing the play on Lincoln, Mr. Drinkwater believes he will find the proper perspective in which to tast the new piece. Paucity of detail and a broad, sympathetic interpretation will mark the second play. To those who may question the wisdom of an Englishman writing a play aobut a great American, Mr. Drinkwater offers the reply than an American might well be fitted to write a true play of a representative Englishman, such as Gladstone, for example. An American would see Gladstone in clear outline, unhampered by a mass of detail that might tend to obtrude itself were the author in close physical proximity to the associations surrounding his chosen subject.

Mr. Drinkwater is greatly interested in the warm welcome that New York audiences are according to General Lee in “Abraham Lincoln,” notwithstanding the fact that the play permits only a fleeting glimpse of the commander. The poet has received many letters from Southerners commenting kindly on Lincoln, and few that retain any of the old bitterness of the civil war. This experience has caused him to feel that the latter represent merely an individual here and there, but hat for the most part the Southerners realize the honesty and fairness that moved Lincoln.

The play dealing with John Brown will of necessity be a more slender piece than either of the other plays of the trilogy, said Mr. Drinkwater. He was not prepared to speak in more detail of it. The play dealing with General Lee will be put on by William Harris, Jr., the producer of “Abraham Lincoln.”

Mr. Harris announced yesterday that he had completed arrangements with Mr. Drinkwater for another play centering about Mary Queen of Scots. This will be produced first in London late in the Spring, but the play about General Lee is to have its world premier in America.