Thomas Wood Stevens Biography

Thomas Wood Stevens




Artist, illustrator, poet, and theater director Thomas Wood Stevens was born in Daysville, Illinois, in 1880. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Students League, where he became proficient in mural painting, a skill that would serve him well in his future career as a theater director and set designer. He took study trips abroad to London and Spain where he took classes from Frank Brangwyn and Joaquin Sorolla. In 1899 he cofounded Blue Sky Press, through which he published writings and poems of various students, including his own. 

He served as head of the Illustration Department at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1903 to 1911 while operating Blue Sky Press, before switching his focus to theater. He first served as head of the Drama Department at the Carnegie Institute of Technology from 1913 to 1925, and at the Kenneth Sawyer Goodman Memorial Theater from 1925 to 1930. He was director of the American branch of the Globe Theatre Shakespearean productions which were performed at a variety of expositions and centennials. His final post was at the University of Arizona, where he was in charge of the Drama Department from 1941 to 1942, the year of his death. 

A collection of ephemera at the University of Arizona catalogues his correspondance with theater luminaries and artists such as Kenneth Goodman, Bertha Jacques and Frederic Goudy. Also among his papers is the manuscript for Stevens' book Theater from Athens to Broadway, including his original illustrations.