While doing other research last year, 1812Blockhouse discovered a coincidence about Bromfield’s life which connects his early years in Mansfield with his later success as an author. When we posted it, we were not aware if this story had been previously known.
As historians note, Louis Bromfield’s father and grandfather spelled their surname as “Brumfield,” with the father making the change to render the family name more “distinguished.” Louis was born in 1896 in Mansfield, and was a student in Mansfield schools.
During his teenage years, he dabbled in acting. In fact, the first media reference to a young Louis Bromfield (still spelled “Brumfield”) was his role in a play performed in 1913.
The June 14, 1913 edition of the Mansfield News had that earliest notice. It shared the story of a play being performed for a ladies’ group, sharing”
“My Uncle from India, which was produced with such pronounced success by local talent some months ago, is to be repeated in the high school auditorium next Tuesday evening for the benefit of the Ladies Aid society of the First Congregational Church.”
The printed cast list included Louis portraying Harry Marsland, with the author receiving fourth billing in the list.
My Uncle from India was written in the latter part of the 19th century by Harold Sander. Described as a “farcical comedy in four acts,” the 1 ¼ hour long piece was also said to be “…unusually ludicrous.”
It is interesting that a play Bromfied knew as a youth had India as a key plot element, as the country would play such an important part of his adult life. During the years he lived in rural Paris, he made two long trips to India, where he was exposed to early organic farming.
His Indian travels informed one of his most critically acclaimed bestsellers, The Rains Came (1937), which was adapted into a popular 1939 film starring Myrna Loy and Tyrone Power. He later used proceeds from this book to finance Malabar Farm, saying that “nothing could be more appropriate than giving the farm an Indian name because India made it possible.”
It’s nice to think that the strong connection between this author and this country was sparked by a turn on a Mansfield stage.
Sources: Wikipedia, Mansfield News