James Maxwell Anderson (15 December 1888 – 28 February 1959) was an American playwright, author, poet, journalist and lyricist. He was a founding member of The Playwrights Company.
Anderson was born in Atlantic, Pennsylvania, the second child of William Lincoln Anderson, a Baptist minister, and Charlotte Perrimela Stephenson. His family initially lived on his maternal grandmother's farm in Atlantic, then moved to Andover, Ohio, where his father became a railroad fireman while studying to become a minister. They moved to Jamestown, North Dakota in 1907, where Anderson attended Jamestown High School, graduating in 1908.
As an undergraduate, he waited tables and worked at the night copy desk of the Grand Forks Herald, and was active in the school's literary and dramatic societies. He obtained a B.A. in English Literature from the University of North Dakota in 1911. He became the principal of a high school in Minnewaukan, North Dakota, also teaching English there, but he was fired from this job in 1913 because he had made pacifist statements to his students. He then entered Stanford University, obtaining an M.A. in English Literature in 1914. He became a high school English teacher in San Francisco: after three years he became chairman of the English department at Whittier College in 1917. He was fired after a year for public statements supporting a student seeking status as a conscientious objector.