Early Screenwriting Teachers

“This carefully researched, tightly written study demonstrates that today’s screenwriting manuals have a long history, one tied to the economics and production practices of the film industry. Stephen Curran skilfully shows how our contemporary screenplay gurus are heirs to a tradition that left a deep imprint on American movies.”

(DAVID BORDWELL, Jacques Ledoux Professor of Film Studies,
University of Wisconsin-Madison).

“A detailed, meticulous and scholarly source of information on early US screenwriting discourse. An impressive contribution to the growth of screenwriting studies.”

(IAN W. MACDONALD, PhD, University of Leeds
Co-founder, Screenwriting Research Network).

Purchase your copy now through Amazon UK or buy in bulk through Gardners Books.


Early Screenwriting Teachers 1910–1922: Origins, Contribution and Legacy, is an historical study that reveals the previously unacknowledged contribution that early screenwriting teachers have made to the development of the Hollywood film industry.
Drawing on an extensive range of primary materials, including manuals and columns written for the fan and trade press, this book shows the significant role five key screenwriting teachers played in translating playwriting theory and theatrical tradition into writing for film.
It demonstrates how these early teachers contributed to forming and codifying a set of
foundational writing techniques specific to the film medium, as well as examining the legacy
they have left in the context of the role and function of contemporary screenwriting gurus.


“The vast number of screenwriting manuals has its precursors in the pre-studio era. These early screenwriting teachers are almost forgotten. It is Stephen Curran’s merit to bring them back to our attention. He delivers a meticulously researched, in-depth analysis of early screenwriting teaching and thus makes not only an important contribution to the study of screenwriting history, but delivers a welcome starting point for discussing the discourse about screenwriting and its influence on the industry in historical as well as in recent contexts.”

(CLAUS TIEBER, PhD, Head of Several Research Projects,
University of Vienna).

“Early Screenwriting Teachers offers much needed insight and understanding of the genesis of screenwriting practices as a driving controlling factor in the emergence, development and eventual success of the Hollywood studio system. Curran illuminates this overlooked area of inquiry by examining and unpacking elements and techniques adapted and honed from literary and theatrical traditions first; and then by focusing on the historical relevance of key teachers and their contributions to capture the complexity and fluid nature of training for the profession in the industry since its early days. Richly illustrated and providing a wealth of vital references to fascinating primary sources, the book is a welcome addition to he current scholarship of screenwriting studies.”

(PAOLO RUSSO, PhD, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies
Oxford Brookes University).