Burns Mantle
BornRobert Burns Mantle
(1873-12-23)December 23, 1873
Watertown, New York, United States
DiedFebruary 9, 1948(1948-02-09) (aged 74)
Forest Hills, Queens, New York, United States
OccupationNewspaper theatre critic, screenwriter
GenreTheatre criticism

Robert Burns Mantle (December 23, 1873 – February 9, 1948) was an American theater critic and screenwriter. He founded the Best Plays annual publication in 1920.[1][2]


Mantle was born in Watertown, New York, on December 23, 1873, to Robert Burns Mantle and Susan Lawrence. As a child he moved to Denver, Colorado.

By 1892, he was working as a linotype machine operator in California and then became a reporter.

By the late 1890s, Mantle was working as a drama critic for the Denver Times. He later moved to Chicago, Illinois, and then New York City, New York, in 1911.[1] He was at the New York Evening Mail until 1922, and then the Daily News until his retirement in 1943. Mantle was succeeded as the drama critic at the Daily News by his assistant John Arthur Chapman.[3][4]

He died, aged 74, of stomach cancer on February 9, 1948.[1][5]

His wife was the former Lydia (Lillie) Sears; her sister Clara Sears Taylor was a journalist and government official who assisted Mantle with compiling his Best Plays publications.[6]


  1. ^ a b c "Burns Mantle Is Dead, Former Drama Critic". The Gazette. Associated Press. February 10, 1948. Retrieved 2012-12-17. Burns Mantle, 74, veteran drama critic noted for his annual compilations of the 'Best Plays' of the year, died today of cancer of the stomach. A drama critic in New York since 1911 Mantle served ...
  2. ^ Chansky, Dorothy (2011). "Burns Mantle and the American Theatregoing Public", in Theatre History Studies (via Google Books). Vol. 31.
  3. ^ Staff (August 16, 1943). Burns Mantle Quits as Drama Reviewer". Associated Press (via The Gazette via Google News). Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  4. ^ Abstract (August 15, 1943). "Burns Mantle Retires". The New York Times. (subscription required) for full article.
  5. ^ "Burns Mantle, 74, Drama Critic, Dies – Dear of Reviewers Here, Noted as Anthologist of Best Plays, Served The News 21 Years". The New York Times. February 10, 1948. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
  6. ^ Brooks Atkinson, "Keeper of the Drama's Books" The New York Times (September 11, 1938): 185.