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Lawrence Edward Watkin (December 9, 1901 – December 16, 1981) was an American writer and film producer. He has become known especially as a scriptwriter for a series of 1950s Walt Disney films.

Lawrence Edward Watkin
Born(1901-12-09)December 9, 1901
Camden, New York, U.S.
DiedDecember 16, 1981(1981-12-16) (aged 80)
San Joaquin County, California
OccupationNovelist, Screenwriter, Producer
Notable worksOn Borrowed Time
Notable awardsBookseller Discovery National Book Award, 1937



Watkin was born in Camden (town), New York[1] in 1901. He died in 1981, a few days after his 80th birthday, in San Joaquin County, California.


Lawrence Edward Watkin was at first an English professor at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. His first novel On Borrowed Time, published in 1937, remains his best known work. It won the National Book Award as Bookseller Discovery of 1937, voted by members of the American Booksellers Association.[2] It was dramatized in 1938 by Paul Osborn for a successful run on Broadway. A Hollywood film version with Lionel Barrymore and Sir Cedric Hardwicke followed in 1939.

His next novel, Geese in the Forum (1940), was an allegory about university structures.

In 1947 Walt Disney hired Watkin to adapt the stories of Herminie Templeton Kavanagh featuring Darby O'Gill. The project was finally realized in 1959 as Darby O'Gill and the Little People. By that time, Watkin had written numerous other screenplays for Disney. The first of his Disney screenplays was Treasure Island (1950), adapted from the Robert Louis Stevenson novel. Three screenplays followed (Beaver Valley, The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men, and The Sword and the Rose), which were produced by Disney in Great Britain. The popular Disney television serials Spin and Marty (1955–1957) were adapted by Jackson Gillis from Watkin's 1942 book Marty Markham.[3][4] Watkin was producer of Disney's 1956 Adventure film, The Great Locomotive Chase.

In the late 1960s Watkin was hired by the Disney Studio to do a biography of Walt Disney after the first effort by Richard G. Hubler was judged unsatisfactory. Watkin's effort was also deemed unsuitable; he told friends the biography was "ill-fated" because it was "too truthful". Disney historian Wade Sampson after reading the unpublished manuscript dubbed it "achingly boring, with only occasional insights into the life and genius of Walt Disney and merely listing the Disney productions rather than the stories behind those productions."[5]





  1. ^ The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri. Draft Registration Cards for Virginia 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1987 (Fold3 images on-line). St. Louis, Missouri: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 774. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  2. ^ Ballots were submitted from 319 stores; there had been about 600 ABA members one year earlier.
    "Booksellers Give Prize to 'Citadel': Cronin's Work About Doctors Their Favorite--'Mme. Curie' Gets Non-Fiction Award ...", The New York Times, March 2, 1938, page 14. ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851-2007).
  3. ^ Watkin, Lawrence Edward (1942). Marty Markham. New York: Henry Holt. LCCN 42021068.
  4. ^ "Spin and Marty review". Atlas Communications. June 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-20.
  5. ^ Jack Cutting Speaks

Further readingEdit

Lawrence Edward Watkin. Larry Watkin: A Memoir of an American Man of Letters. Pulp Hero Press, 2018. ISBN 1683901274

External linksEdit