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“W” is for White, John Blake (1781-1859)

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“W” is for White, John Blake (1781-1859). Playwright, painter. A native South Carolinian, White read for the law in Columbia. In 1800 he sailed for England where he studied under the renowned painter Benjamin West. Returning home, he began writing and in 1806 his first two plays were performed at the Charleston Theatre. They and his other early plays were Gothic Romantic tragedies set in Europe. His other dramas are notable for addressing contemporary American concerns such as dueling, capital punishment, and temperance. Some of his paintings depicted dramatic events of the American Revolution. Four of them, including General Marion Inviting a British Officer to Share His Meal hang in the U.S. Capitol. A pioneer in early American painting and literature, John Blake White was a leading figure in both art forms in antebellum South Carolina.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.