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Susan Glaspell Biography

(1876–1948), Trifles, The Outside, Inheritors, The Verge, Alison's House, Fidelity, Brook Evans

novels cook verge plays

American novelist and dramatist, born in Davenport, Iowa, educated at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. Glaspell wrote ten novels and many short stories but made her enduring reputation as a playwright. In 1913 she married George Cram Cook, writer, director, and moving spirit behind one of the most important theatre companies in modern American history, the Provincetown Players, who discovered Eugene O'Neill. With Cook and O'Neill she wrote and acted for this company until Cook's death in 1924. Her best plays are Trifles (1920), The Outside (1920), Inheritors (1921), and The Verge (1924); her last play, Alison's House (1930), was a popular success. Of her novels, Fidelity (1915), Brook Evans (1928), The Morning Is Near Us (1939), and Judd Rankin's Daughter (1945) have survived best. Her autobiography The Road to the Temple appeared in 1927. As a dramatist her work is marked by a degree of formal experimentalism evident in the sparse settings and characterization of The Outside, and more obviously in her most extravagant work, The Verge. In this symbolist drama the heroine, Claire Archer (her name suggests both clarity and ambition), repudiates the roles of wife, mother, and finally, lover, in a desperate search for release into a new mode of being for which her amateur work as a scientific experimenter with hybrid plants acts as a metaphor. In her novels as in her plays, Glaspell's concern with the social role of women is repeatedly pictured through her representation of sexual deprivation and marital despair, often in a frontier landscape.

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