Richard Walton Tully

Richard Walton Tully (May 7, 1877 – February 1, 1945) was an American playwright.

Richard Walton Tully
From a 1921 magazine
BornMay 7, 1877
DiedFebruary 1, 1945(1945-02-01) (aged 67)
EducationUniversity of California
Spouse(s)Eleanor Gates[1]


Tully was born on May 7, 1877 in Nevada City, Nevada. Tully was married to another playwright Eleanor Gates until he divorced her in 1914.[1]

His best known work was the 1912 play The Bird of Paradise,[2] which caused a long-running court case over alleged plagiarism. A schoolteacher named Grace Fender was initially successful in persuading the court that Tully's play was based on her play In Hawaii, however the case was reversed on appeal.[3]

Tully retired to breed horses. He died on February 1, 1945 in New York City at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.[4]




  1. "R.W. Tully Seeks Divorce. Playwright Sues Eleanor Gates on Ground of Desertion". New York Times. 24 March 1914. Retrieved 16 October 2010. Richard Walton Tully, playwright, instituted suit in the Superior Court here to-day for a divorce from Eleanor Gates Tully, the author. The charge is desertion.
  2. "The Bird of Paradise: A Broadway Show - Hawai'i Digital Newspaper Project".
  3. Gerald Bordman and Thomas S. Hischak. "Tully, Richard Walton" The Oxford Companion to American Theatre. 2004. Retrieved October 16, 2010 from
  4. "Richard W. Tully, Dramatist, is Dead; Author of 'Bird of Paradise,' Was the Victor in Notable Plagiarism Suit Here Law Career Put Aside Decision Is Reversed". New York Times. February 2, 1945. Retrieved 2010-10-17. Richard Walton Tully of 50 West Eighty-seventh Street, dramatist, author of the stage success "The Bird of Paradise," over which raged one of the bitterest plagiarism suits on record, died Wednesday night at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. His age was 67.

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