Paul Eliot Green was a teacher, philosopher, and playwright whose work includes historical dramas of life in North Carolina during the first decades of the twentieth century. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his 1927 play, In Abraham's Bosom.
Born in in 1894 in Buies Creek, North Carolina, Green was educated at Buies Creek Academy (a private school that developed into what is now known as Campbell University), graduating in 1914. In 1916 he was admitted to the University of North Carolina. In April 1917, during World War One, and before finishing his first year at the university, Green enlisted in the U.S. Army.
He served in the 105th Engineer Regiment, 30th Infantry Division. By April 1918, he had advanced to the rank of sergeant first class and was deployed with his regiment to the war zone the following month. Apparently, Green's conduct on the battlefield impressed his superiors, who recommended him for officer candidate school (OCS). The war ended while Paul was still at OCS, and he was breveted a second lieutenant and served until May 1919 mostly in Paris, France.
Paul Green's WWI draft card
Late 1918/early 1919 (image via UNC)
Green returned to the university in 1919. One of his professors was "Proff" Frederick H. Koch, who had organized the Carolina Playmakers in 1918. Koch encouraged Green and the other students in his class to write "folk plays" based on local subjects and their own experiences; many of Paul Green's plays were produced during this period. During his time at UNC, Green was also a member of the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies. He graduated with a major in philosophy in 1921.
Green married fellow student Elizabeth A. Lay, on July 6, 1922. After a year of graduate study in philosophy under Professor Horace Williams at UNC, Green attended Cornell University for further graduate work, but in 1923 returned to Chapel Hill to become an assistant professor of philosophy at UNC. He remained in that department until 1939, when he became a professor of dramatic art. In 1944, he resigned to write full time.
Paul Green died in 1981 at his home in Chapel Hill and is buried in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery. A North Carolina Highway Historical Marker is located near his home.
His papers are held in the Southern Historical Collection at UNC.
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