There is an extensive bibliography of books written about this group of folks, as the ‘Round Table’ .. and of course there are biographies of the participants, as well as their theatrical, literary, and artistic products. One of the best introductions is on the page crafted for an “American Masters” segment on the Round Table: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/the-algonquin-round-table/about-the-algonquin/527/….From that source this statement that includes the requisite name listing:
With members such as writers Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross (founder of THE NEW YORKER) and Robert Benchley; columnists Franklin Pierce Adams and Heywood Broun, and Broun’s wife Ruth Hale; critic Alexander Woollcott; comedian Harpo Marx; and playwrights George S. Kaufman, Marc Connelly, Edna Ferber, and Robert Sherwood, the Round Table embodied an era and changed forever the face of American humor.
I found this group of writers during my adolescence, as I attempted to make sense in a straight-laced suburb of a straight-laced town in a straight-laced era. Western Michigan suburban girl yearns to break free –that was the subtext. And part of my TEXT became: these characters. From the age of 13 onward, in visits to Manhattan, and within a few years visits to the Algonquin itself, and later in high school creating an independent study so that i could get some course credit for the reading i was doing of Benchley and Parker and Kaufman and Woollcott and Ferber and .. and. … I lived a bit in these lives.
My LibraryThing collection of books by and about these characters can be found here: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/msteketee/algonquinroundtable
Either these people amuse you or they don’t. They reduce me to a puddle of hysterics at times. I’ve been reading and writing about these folks for decades. They endlessly fascinate me. And this era of American cultural history — one of hope and cynicism and of “finding its voice” — just intrigues me.
The restrained and relentless humor which informed generations to come is captured exquisitely in the following skit created by Robert Benchley for the Round Table members’ vaudeville entitled No, Sirree!, and repeated on and off for years. Thankfully it was captured on film. Ladies and gentle people, I give you … “The Treasurer’s Report”. And invite you to try out the some of Benchley’s colleagues on paper, on stage, on film.
© Martha Wade Steketee (June 1, 2010)