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Pittsburgh Authors: Literary Degrees of Separation, Spring 2013 @ Pitt Special Collections: Pittsburgh as Subject

Exhibit of documents from the Mary Roberts Rinehart Papers (1831-1970), Hervey Allen Papers (1831-1965), Lawrence Lee Papers (1920-1978), Walter and Martha Leuba Collection, Nixon Theatre: Pittsburgh Theatre Collection, and Special Collections

Exhibit Case 6: Pittsburgh as Subject

All authors took inspiration from the city’s monuments, events, or gradual changes and incorporated these in their creative endeavors.  Native to Allegheny City, which has now been incorporated as the North Side, Mary Roberts Rinehart took inspiration from a real life murder mystery that occurred in Pittsburgh (see “The Confession”).  Hervey Allen, also a native to Pittsburgh, wrote early poems about the city including “When Shady Avenue was Shady Lane.” Though not native to Pittsburgh, Lawrence Lee was perhaps most inspired by the city. His works, such as his poem dedicated to the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh and dramatic works such as Prometheus in Pittsburgh and American as Faust, heavily allude to the city and its monuments.  Walter Leuba, who also lived on the North Side, wrote less extensively about the city, however his poem “Allegheny” makes an obvious reference to the city he lived in for most of his life.

Images below clockwise from left: Handwritten manuscript of Lee' dramatic poem Prometheus in Pittsburgh; photo of the Pittsburgh skyline at night;  stage-shot of the WQED media production broadcast of Prometheus in Pittsburgh at the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh in 1953.