Paul Green was born in Lilington, North Carolina in 1894. After studying and teaching at the University of North Carolina, he began to write plays about the lives of poor people. This included The Last of the Lowries (1920), White Dresses (1923) and Lonesome Road (1926).
Green's next play, Abraham's Bosom, about the persecution and lynching of a black schoolteacher, was performed by the Provincetown Theatre Group in New York in 1926 and the following year won the Pulitzer Prize.
In 1931 the Group Theatre was formed in New York by Harold Clurman and Lee Strasberg. Others involved in the group included Elia Kazan, Stella Adler, John Garfield, Howard Da Silva, Franchot Tone, John Randolph, Joseph Bromberg, Michael Gordon, Clifford Odets and Lee J. Cobb. Members of the group tended to hold left-wing political views and wanted to produce plays that dealt with important social issues.
Green's first play for the Group Theatre was The House of Connelly (1931). This was followed by Tread of the Green Grass (1932), Roll Sweet Chariot (1934),Hymn to the Rising Sun (1936), a condemnation of the chain-gang system, and Johnny Johnson (1936), the anti-war musical play written with Kurt Weill.
Green became involved in the Federal Theatre Project. His The Lost Colony (1937) was an outdoor historical pageant based on Sir Walter Raleigh's American settlement, was performed in a Works Projects Administration built theatre on Roanoake Island.
Green also wrote several film screenplays including Cabin in the Cotton (1932), Voltaire (1933), State Fair (1933), Doctor Bull (1933), Carolina (1934),We Live Again (1934) and State Fair (1945).
After the Second World War Green concentrated on writing and staging pageant-dramas about American history. These were usually designed for outdoor performance in the appropriate geographical locations. His productions included The Common Glory (1947),Faith of Our Fathers (1950), The Stephen Foster Story (1959) and We The People (1976). Paul Green died in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on 4th May, 1981.