Susan Glaspell’s (1876-1948) place in theatre history lies not only in her being the second woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1931), but also in her co-founding the Provincetown Players. Glaspell was primarily known as the wife of George Cram Cook, the founder of the Provincetown Players. Then her short play, Trifles, made its way into anthologies, and her work with the Provincetown Players became a footnote. She wrote five short plays and five full—length plays and co-wrote two full—length plays with Cook. She also wrote one full—length play with her lover, Norman Matson. When she and Cook married she had already published two books, and several short stories.
Susan Keating Glaspell was born in Davenport, Iowa, on July 1, 1876 (some state her year of birth as 1882), to Elmer and Alice Keating Glaspell. Her family was among the first Irish and English people to immigrate to Iowa, drawn there by land auctions, from Ohio in 1835. Glaspell graduated from Drake University in 1899, where she studied the Classics, literature, and the Bible, and became a reporter for the Des Moines Daily News. In 1901, she quit working for the newspaper and returned to Davenport to write full-time for Harper’s Bazaar, as well as other magazines. In 1902, Glaspell moved to Chicago and enrolled at the University of Chicago to study literature. Never fully accepted into the literature program, she only attended the school for one quarter. From 1902-1907, Glaspell wrote short stories set in Chicago. She published two to three stories a year from 1902 to 1922. Thirteen of her short stories were published in Lifted Masks in 1912. During this time she also published three novels and began writing plays. Glaspell and George Cram Cook married in 1913 and moved to Greenwich Village, in New York City, and then to Provincetown, Massachusetts. In 1947 Glaspell was diagnosed with stomach cancer, a fact she kept hidden from friends. In early July of 1948, Glaspell caught a summer cold which turned into viral pneumonia. Glaspell died at ten p.m. on July 26, 1948; her death shocked her friends who knew nothing of her cancer.
- Suppressed Desires (1915) Co-Written with George Cram Cook
- Trifles (1916) Adapted from the short story A Jury of Her Peers (1917)
- Close the Book (1917)
- The Outside (1920)
- The People (1917)
- Woman's Honor (1918)
- Tickless Time (1918) Co-written with George Cram Cook
- Bernice (1919)
- Inheritors (1921)
- The Verge (1921)
- Chains of Dew (1922)
- The Comic Artist (1927) Co-written with Norman Matson
- Alison's House (1930)
Ben-Zvi, Linda. Susan Glaspell: Her Life and Times. 1st ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2005.
Glaspell, Susan. Plays. “Introduction” Ed. C.W.E. Bigsby. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
Ozieblo, Barbara. Susan Glaspell: a Critical Biography. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina P, 2000.
Waterman, Arthur E. Susan Glaspell. New York: Twayne, 1966.