Biography of David Henry Hwang

David Henry Hwang is an American playwright and screenwriter, known best for his play M. Butterfly. He was born in Los Angeles, and studied English at Stanford University before getting his playwriting degree from Yale School of Drama.

His first play, FOB, was part of a trilogy of plays that examined Chinese American and Asian American identities in America. His work attracted the interest of Joseph Papp from the Public Theater, who produced many of Hwang's early plays, including The Dance and the Railroad and Family Devotions.

In 1988, Hwang's play M. Butterfly, a deconstruction of the Puccini opera Madama Butterfly, was produced on Broadway, winning the Tony Award for Best Play. Hwang was the first Asian American to win this award. The play was later adapted into a film, directed by David Cronenberg.

After this success, Hwang turned to writing for Broadway musical, contributing to the book for the Broadway musical Aida, and helping to revamp the revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical Flower Drum Song. His plays since then include Yellow Face, The Great Helmsman, Chinglish, Kung Fu, and Soft Power. He has also worked as a librettist for several American operas.


Study Guides on Works by David Henry Hwang

M. Butterfly is the first American play written by an Asian American to reach universal acclaim. The play also makes references as well as parodies Puccini's "Madame Butterfly" (hence the title). The main character, Rene likens himself to be like...