Alexander Woolcott

Alexander Woolcott
Noel Coward called him a "caged cobra." Harpo Marx thought he looked like something that had gotten loose from a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Plump, owl-faced, acid-tongued Alexander Woollcott, one of the highest-paid critics in America by 1922, invited mockery just as he delivered it. He produced thousands of theater reviews, hundreds of magazine essays, and fifteen books, and his vituperative streak added a sharp sting to Algonquin humor.

Woollcott loved caricature. When he became New York World drama critic in the mid-1920s, he pored over the caricaturists' weekly submissions. Woollcott used this cryptic rendering by William Auerbach-Levy as a personal trademark, imprinting it on stationery, announcements, and book covers.


Alexander Woollcott 18871943
William Auerbach-Levy (18891964)
Ink and pencil on paper, circa 19291939
Billy Rose Theatre Collection, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, New York City


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