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Louis Kronenberger (December 9, 1904 – April 30, 1980) was an American literary critic (longest with Time, (1938-1961), novelist, and biographer who wrote extensively on drama and the 18th century.[1]

Louis Kronenberger
BornDecember 9, 1904
United States
DiedApril 30, 1980(1980-04-30) (aged 75)
United States
OccupationNovelist, critic
GenreJournalism, biographer
Time, where Kronenberger worked (1938–1961)



Kronenberger attended (but did not graduate from) the University of Cincinnati (1921–24).[1]



In 1924, Kronenberger began his career at the New York Times.[1]

In 1926, he became an editor at Boni & Liveright.[1]

In 1933, he became an editor for Alfred A. Knopf.[1]

In 1938, he became drama critic for Time, where he continued to 1961.[1] In 1940, William Saroyan listed Kronenberger among the associate editors at Time in the play, Love's Old Sweet Song.[2] Starting in 1942, he worked under Whittaker Chambers, who became editor for the "Back of the Book" (1942-1944).[3] During this period Time was, according to Chambers, "consistently able and sometimes brilliant, because of a small group of men" that included Kronenberger, T. S. Matthews, James Agee, Robert Fitzgerald, Robert Cantwell, Winthrop Sargeant, John K. Jessup, and Calvin Fixx.[4] He continued to work for Time until 1961.[1]

In 1940, he also served as a critic for PM and worked there until 1948.[1]


Kronenberger was a visiting professor at several universities, including City College of New York, Columbia, Harvard, Berkeley.[1] In 1951, at Brandeis, he founded a Department of Theater Arts.[1]

He was associated with numerous organizations for promoting the arts: Yaddo, Lincoln Center Library-Museum, the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[5]

Personal and deathEdit

Kronenberger married Emily L. Plaut in 1940; they had two children.[1]

He died on April 30, 1980.[1]


"Kronenberger's praise was a near guarantee of box-office success."[5]

A collection of Louis Kronenberger's papers is held by Princeton University.[1]


John Wilkes by Richard Houston (1769), about whom Kronenberger wrote in 1974

In his later years, Kronenberger wrote biographies, including one of John Wilkes and another of Oscar Wilde.[1][5]


  • The Grand Manner (1929)[1]
  • Kings and Desperate Men: Life in Eighteenth-Century England (1942)
  • Grand Right and Left (1952)[1]
  • The Thread of Laughter: Chapters on English Stage Comedy from Jonson to Maugham (1952)
  • Company Manners: A Cultural Inquiry into American Life (1954)
  • Republic of Letters: Essays on Various Writers (1955)
  • Marlborough's Duchess: A Study in Worldliness (1958)
  • Madame De Lafayette: The Story of a Patriot's Wife (1959)
  • A Month of Sundays (1961)[1]
  • The Viking Book of Aphorisms (1962)
  • Great World: Portraits and Scenes from Greville's Memoirs, 1814-1860 (1963)
  • The Cart and the Horse (1964)
  • The Polished Surface: Essays in the Literature of Worldliness (1969)
  • The Cutting Edge: A Collection of Witty Insults and Wicked Retorts, of Polished Snubs and Homicidal Repartee (1970)
  • No Whippings, No Gold Watches (1970) memoirs
  • A Mania for Magnificence (1972)
  • Animal, Vegetable, Mineral (1972)
  • The Last Word: Portraits of Fourteen Master Aphorists (1972)
  • Extraordinary Mr. Wilkes: His Life and Times (1974)[1]
  • Oscar Wilde (1976)[1]


  • An Anthology of Light Verse (1935)
  • An Eighteenth Century Miscellany (1936)
  • Reader's Companion (1945) editor
  • The Pleasure of Their Company: An Anthology of Civilized Writing (1946)
  • The Indispensable Johnson and Boswell (1950)
  • Alexander Pope: Selected Works (1951)
  • Cavalcade of Comedy (1953)
  • George Bernard Shaw : A Critical Survey (1953) * The Portable Johnson and Boswell (1955)
  • The Maxims of La Rochefoucauld (1959)
  • Novelists on Novelists (1962) editor
  • Quality: Its Image in the Arts (1969)
  • Brief Lives: a Biographical Companion to the Arts (1971)
Oscar Wilde by Napoleon Sarony (1882), about whom Kronenberger wrote in 1976

Books edited with others:

Plays written:

  • The Heavenly Twins (1955)[1]

Plays translated, adapted:

  • Mademoiselle Colombe by Jean Anouilh (New York: Coward-McCann, 1954) translated and adapted from the original Colombe (1951)

Plays edited:

  • Best Plays series (1952-1961):
    • The Best Plays of 1952-1953, Burns Mantle Yearbook (1953)
    • The Best Plays of 1953-1954 (1954)
    • The Best Plays of 1954-1955 (1955)
    • The Best Plays of 1955-1956 (1956)
    • The Best Plays of 1956-1957 (1957)
    • The Best Plays of 1957-1958 (1958)
    • The Best Plays of 1958-1959 (1959)
    • The Best Plays of 1959-1960 (1960)
    • The Best Plays of 1960-1961 (1961)
  • Four Plays by Bernard Shaw (1953)
  • Richard Brinsley Sheridan: Six Plays (1964)

Plays edited with others:

  • The Beggar's Opera by John Gay, A Faithful Reproduction of the 1729 Edition (1961) with Max Goberman
  • Ibsen (1977) with Harold Clurman


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "Louis Kronenberger Papers". Princeton University. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  2. ^ Saroyan, William (1940). Love's Old Sweet Song: A Play in Three Acts. Samuel French. p. 72. Retrieved 15 July 2017..
  3. ^ Tanenhaus, Sam (1997). Whittaker Chambers: A Biography. New York: Random House. pp. 170–171 (Kronenberger), 173 (Back of the Book editor). Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  4. ^ Chambers, Whittaker (1952). Witness. New York: Random House. p. 478. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Funston, Judith E. (1999). Kronenberger, Louis. American National Biography.

External linksEdit