Beginnings by Horton Foote
A Memoir

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Since 1939, Horton Foote, "the Chekhov of the small town," has chronicled with compassion and acuity the experience of American life both intimate and universal. His adaptation of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and his original screenplay Tender Mercies earned him Academy Awards. He has won a Pulitzer Prize, the Gold Medal for Drama from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the PEN/Laura Pels Foundation Award for Drama, and the President's National Medal of Arts.
Beginnings is the story of Foote's discovery of his own vocation. He didn't always want to write. When he left Wharton, Texas, at the age of sixteen to study at the Pasadena Playhouse, Foote aspired to be an actor. He remembers the terror and excitement of leaving home during the Depression, his early exposure to the influences of German theater, and the speech lessons he took to "cure" him of his Southern drawl. He eventually arrives in New York to search for acting jobs and to study with some of the great Russian and American teachers of the 1930s. But after mixed results on the stage, he finally recognizes his true passion, writing.
From Martha Graham to Tennessee Williams, from Agnes de Mille to Lillian Gish, Horton collaborates with great artists in both dance and theater. The world he describes of fierce commitment and passion regardless of financial rewards is both captivating and inspiring. Through it all Horton maintains his genuine Southern charm, and he often travels home to Wharton, the town that nurtured him as a storyteller and has inspired his writing for the past sixty years. From one of the most moving and distinctive voices of our time, Beginnings is a rare, personal look at a fascinating era in American life, and at the making of a writer.

About Horton Foote

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Horton Foote was born in Wharton, Texas, in 1916. He is the author of Farewell: A Memoir of a Texas Childhood. He has written and adapted over fifty plays and screenplays, including The Trip to Bountiful, The Young Man from Atlanta, Tender Mercies, and To Kill a Mockingbird. In 1996 he was elected to the Theatre Hall of Fame, and in 1998 to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, from which he received the Gold Medal for Drama for his life's work. Foote has been awarded two Oscars; a Pulitzer Prize; the PEN/Laura Pels Foundation Award for Drama; the New York State Govenor's Award, presented by Governor George Pataki; and from President Bill Clinton, the National Medal of Arts.
Published April 25, 2002 by Scribner. 272 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Foote's portrayal of the New York theater and arts scene in the mid-1930s is fascinating—he met or knew everyone from Lynn Riggs (who wrote the play upon which Oklahoma was based) to Tennessee Williams—and the book ends after he meets his future wife, Lillian Vallish.

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