Tobacco Road


Jack Kirkland from Erskine Caldwell

Published by Samuel French Inc

The provocative novel Tobacco Road was published in 1932 and depicts the underbelly of the 1930s rural South-the poverty and the physical and emotional starvation. Adapted for the stage by Jack Kirkland the following year, Tobacco Road ran for 3,182 performances for over seven years, making it the longest-running Broadway drama up to that time

From the start, controversy surrounded the play - critics assailed it as immoral and repulsive, but the public was titillated by the plot and language

Caldwell wrote - "In the course of Tobacco Road's slow progress it opened on a windy December night in New York. Those men of America who constitute the critical gentry published the following day in columns deep their indignation. The people on the stage behaved like animals; the play was inept, clumsy, and rudderless; there was too much dust on the stage; the play was too snickery to watch; there was no Southern dialect spoken; it was ruttish and blabby ... Jack Kirkland has dramatized Tobacco Road in the manner in which, were I myself a playwright, I should have liked to do it. He has followed the novel from beginning to end just as it was written. I like his work so well that I have just about made up my mind to suggest that I trade him my novel for his play"

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