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Full text of "Susan Glaspell; voice from the heartland"

SUSAN 
GLASPELL 

Voice from the Heartland 










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by Marcia Noe 



Susan Glaspell 



Susan Glaspell 

Voice From The Heartland 



by 

Marcia Noe 



Western Illinois Monograph Series, Number 

Western Illinois University 

Macomb, Illinois 



To 

Florence 

with 

affection and 

gratitude 



The Western Illinois Monograph Series is published by the College of Arts and Sciences 
and University Libraries at Western Illinois University. The Editorial Board includes A. 
Gilbert Belles, Carol G. Covey, Evelyn M. Schroth. Robert P. Sutton, and Donald W. 
Griffin, Chairman. The series supports studies in the history, geography, literature, and 
culture of the western Illinois region. Correspondence about monographs in print or the 
submission of manuscripts for review should be sent to the Chairman of the Editorial Board, 
Western Illinois Monograph Series, College of Arts and Sciences, Western Illinois Univer- 
sity, Macomb, Illinois 61455. 



Copyright 1983 by Western Illinois University 



Cover design by David J. Kelly. 



Preface 



It has been difficult to write about so elusive a personality as Susan GlaspelTs. 
A private person wht) rarely sought publicity, she was a Pulit/er Prize-winning 
dramatist who was apparently unaware that her manuscripts and letters might one 
day be of interest to scholars, for she made no provisions for their preservation. 
Much of what has survived of her papers is held by the New York Public Library; 
1 am indebted to the staff of the Berg Collection for their assistance while I worked 
there. 

Others who helped me with my research include Catherine Alexander and 
James Copas. Reference Librarians, Black Hawk College; Edmund Berkeley, Jr.. 
Curator of Manuscripts. University of Virginia Library; Rebecca A. Boone. As- 
sistant Reference Librarian. Princeton University Library; Rolene Britsen. lovv-i 
State Historical Society; Rodney A. Dennis. Curator of Manuscripts, the 
Houghton Library. Harvard University; Peter Dzwonkoski. Assistant to the 
Curator. The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Yale University: 
Diana Haskell. Curator of Modern Manuscripts, the Newberry Library; Mary 
Herr. Reference Librarian, Davenport Public Library; Carol Hunt. Curator. Put- 
nam Museum; Harriet C. Jameson, Department of Rare Books and Special Collec- 
tions, University of Michigan Library: Dione Miles, Reference Archivist, Arc- 
hives of Labor History and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University; Frank Paluka, 
Special Collections. University of Iowa Libraries; Robert C. Scheetz. Registrar, 
Drake University; Saundra Taylor, Curator of Manuscripts, the Lilly Library, In- 
diana University; and Elizabeth Walsh, Curator, Research Center for the Federal 
Theater Project, George Mason University. 

I was fortunate to be able to interview many people who had known Susan 
Glaspell and were eager to share their memories with me. I am especially grateful 
to Nilla Cook. Susan's stepdaughter, who had contributed not only crucial infor- 
mation, but much enthusiasm and insight to this project. I am also greatly indebted 
toSiriusCook. Susan's stepgrandson. for granting me an interview and for allow- 
ing me to quote from the papers of George Cram Cook and Susan Glaspell. Others 
who furnished me with information through personal interviews are Dorris 
Clarke. Celia Francis, Eben Given, Mary Hackett, David Hudson, Margaret Hud- 
son, Catharine Huntington, Dorothy Meyer, Tibel Narefsky, Martha Robinson, 
and Athanasius Tsachalos. I am also grateful to the following people who corres- 
ponded with me: Gerald L. Bartell, EdmondCook. Ann DeArmand. Miriam Hap- 
good DeWitt. Don Farran. Josephine Bray Hairston. John Houseman. Eva LeGal- 
lienne. Armina Marshall, Langston Moffett, Nick Parros, Norman H. Paul, Fran- 
cis M. Rogers, MarkSchorer, and Arnold Sundgaard. 

A number of scholars who have been interested in Susan Cilaspcil have gener- 
ously provided me with much encouragement and information: Clarence An- 
drews, Gerhard Bach, Rita Mary Bradley, Robert Humphrey. June Sochen, and 



Arthur Waterman. I very much appreciate the wilhrigness of Clarence Andrews. 
Susan Kuhlmann. Margaret McDowell, and Harry Oster, to read the first draft 
of my manuscript and suggest much-needed revisions, mul I would like to tluink 
W.R. Irwin for his assistance ami advice about the y,alle\ proofs.. To Florence 
Boos, I am especially indebted for her interest, patience, generositv, and critical 
acumen. 

To Paul Noe, who helped ine with the research for this project, assisted in 
proofreading the manuscript, and sustained me in many a bleak moment, I will 
always be grateful. 

1 am grateful to Black Hawk College for granting me a sabbatical leave to com- 
plete my research, and to the Western Illinois Monograph Series Editorial Board 
for their assistance in revising the manuscript. I would especially like to thank 
Donald W. Griffin for his painstaking efforts in editing it. 

M.N. 



Contents 

1 . Introduction 9 

2. Iowa Heritage 13 

3. Provincetown Years 29 

4. Horizons Expand 47 

5. Years Alone 65 

6. Conclusion 83 
Notes 87 



1 

Introduction 



Susan Kcatinii Glaspcll ( 1876- hMS) was a Pulit/cr l^ri/cvvinning pla\ wright. 
the author ol" tourteen plays, nine novels, and over fifty short stories. With her 
husband. George Cram Cook, and others she founded the Provincetown Players, 
the little theater group that gave impetus to the experimental efforts of serious 
Ameriean playwrights, most notably Hugene O'Neill. 

Her one-aet play. Trifles ( 1916), is often eited in playw righting texts as a 
model of a well-crafted one-act play. In this work, as well as in her other plays, 
Susan Glaspell is primarily concerned v\ith the psycliological complexities of her 
characters. This concern is most evident in The Vci\^e. an expressionistic drama 
produced in 192! . which explores the psychological limitations of a woman's in- 
dividuality. Susan Glaspell also wrote comedies and farces that dealt satirically 
with such topical concerns as leftist journalism. Freudian theory, and campus 
radicalism. In 1931 her play, Alison' s House, which was based on the life of Emily 
Dickinson, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for drama. 

Susan Glaspell's life is interesting in the way that it parallels the intellectual 
and cultural patterns that were developing in America from the end of the Civil 
War until the middle of the twentieth century. She was born in 1S76, the descen- 
dant of New Englanders who came to Iowa and built a city o\' sawmills and steel 
works where an Indian village once stood. She was raised in the nineteenth century 
tradition that idealized hard work, competition, progress, success, patriotism, 
piety, wealth, prestige, and respectability. Like many young Americans who be- 
came adults as the new century began, she rebelled against these values and the 
conventions o\ midwestern culture w ith which they were associated, seeking the 
freedom to experiment with new ways of living and writing in Chicago, in Green- 
wich Village, and in Europe. During the twenties she enjoyed critical acclaim and 
popularity, both in her own country and abroad, but after the triumph of the 
Pulitzer Prize, her self confidence and prosperity waned with the coming of the 
Great Depression. She then began to rebuild her life and career through the collec- 
tivism of the New Deal and the fight to defeat fascism. 

Yet the thesis that Susan Glaspell grew up with the country should not be 
pushed too far. To say that she was an expatriate in the sense that Hemingway. 
Dos Passos. and Cummings were expatriates is to ignore the facts of her life, for 
she lived in Greece for less than two years during the twenties, and she left Ameri- 
ca in a very different spirit than that which characterized the expatriate movement. 

It would be just as much ot a distortion to portray her as a socialist or e\en 
a liberal activist. Even through she urged Ludwig l.cwisohn to "Vote ioyTlionuis. 
because too many are hungry,""' her sympath\ with liberal causes rarely moved 



10 SUSAN G LAS PELL 



her to political action; her one sustained venture into lett-wing politics was her 
work for the Federal Theater Project as Director ot the Midwest Play Bureau, a 
position she held for less than two years. Those who would force Susan Glaspell 
into the moid that shaped other American w riters do so by ignoring the paradoxes 
in her work and personality. 

■"The reason no one has discovered anything about her life is that she very 
much wanted it that way." said her stepdaughter. NillaCook. ""She subordinated 
herself completely . always to the man of the moment, was aiiythiii;^ but a feminist, 
and always sad when work of her own succeeded more than my father"s-or after. 
Norman Matson's."- It is difficult to believe that this woman, whom friends and 
relatives describe as ladylike, charming, refined, and gentle, is the same woman 
who wrote The Veriic a psychological drama heralded by Greenwich Village 
feminists as an endorsement of the right of women to control their own destinies. 
The task of reconciling Susan Glaspell's faith in the redemptive power of romantic 
love with the ideas about male-female relations that she expresses in Trifles and 
in Wo/;/<:///'.'>//r;/?o/- also presents difficulties. 

Susan Glaspell lived and wrote in Paris. London, Delphi. New York, and Pro- 
vincetown. but her thoughts were never very far away from her Iowa birthplace. 
"The Middle Western scene was for her not something to be lived down or forgot- 
ten but one of her richest resources; and in every reference to the region of her 
birth there is affectionate understanding and sympathy." wrote fellow lowan 
Bartholomew Crawford in Pallmpset.' Yet Susan Glaspell's love for the Midwest 
was tempered with an awareness of its limitations for the unusually talented or 
motivated individual. "'Davenport as a Literary Center is too precious a thought 
to be marred by a comment of mine," she wrote to Floyd Dell, describing a local 
cultural event. "I pass it on to you in all its virgin beauty.""^ Though all of her 
novels and many of her short stories and plays are set, at least in part, in this re- 
gion, she is as critical of its sterile and repressive atmosphere as she is enamored 
of the strengths of the pioneers who settled the prairies and harnessed the power 
of its great river. "She could not have lived with the people who were the only 
ones, apparently, who stirred her genius for entering the solitudes o\' others while 
yet devoutly preserving her own," explained NillaCook. 

Her comments point up the one consistent element in Susan Glaspell's life and 
writings, in light of which the paradoxes and irreconcilable elements seem less 
perplexing. First and foremost, Susan Glaspell was not a feminist, a bohemian, 
a socialist, an expatriate, an eulogist, or critic of the Midwest, but an idealist. 

Her idealism is not a commitment to any one belief so much as it is a belief 
in belief, a faith in faith, with emphasis on the primacy of the spirit, the power 
of intuition and insight, the relation between seeing and becoming, and the unity 
of all experience. Susan Glaspell believes that it is important to see, to dream, 
to envision a better world because in the very act of seeing, dreaming and envi- 
sioning, one becomes a better person and, in doing so, contributes to the realiza- 
tion of that vision. "Be the most that you can be, so life will be more because 
you were," says Madeline in Inheritors.'^ 



INTRODUCTION // 



In her fiction and drama. Susan Glaspcll emphasizes the importance of the 
spiritual and the intangible in our Mvcs by using a unique device: the building of 
a play or story around a character who never appears onstage. In Trifles, Bernicc. 
and Alison's House, all of the elements of the play converge to evoke the spiritual 
presence of the unseen woman in the midst of mundane reality, just as the Ideals 
that reside in the mind o\' God are evoked by their shadowy representalii)ns that 
we apprehend with our senses. 

"\ am nothing. 1 see all. The currents of the Universal Being circulate through 
me. I am part and parcel with God," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson in "Nature."^ 
Susan Glaspcll shares this concept of the universe with Platonists and Transcen- 
dentalists: for her the central fact of reality is the unity of all experience, the inter- 
mingling of the past and the present in the eternal stream of time. The structure 
of many of her works is cyclical; Brook Evans. The Comic Artist, Alison's House. 
The Mornini^ Is Near Us. Norma Ashe, and Jinhl Rankin's Daughter show charac- 
ters repeating the experiences of the past, becoming aware of the way that the past 
impinges upon the present and gives it meaning, of how an understanding of the 
past can make them wiserandenrich their lives. 

Susan Glaspell's work enjoyed a measure of popularity in her lifetime: Brook 
Evans, her fourth novel, was the basis for the Paramount motion picture The Right 
to Love, and The Morning Is Near Us, a Literary Guild selection for 1940, was 
optioned by Columbia Pictures. Nevertheless, little is known about her life and 
work today. She was a woman of varied interests and broad experiences: jour- 
nalist, novelist, actress, playwright, mentor to famous writers as well as to next- 
door neighbors and relatives. At times her talent may have proved unequal to the 
literary tasks she set for herself; still, her works are of interest to the contemporary 
reader, not only because they provide insight into the times during which she 
lived, but because several of them are well-made works of fiction and drama ex- 
pressing the universal concerns that characterize literary classics. 

But it is her fidelity to her own vision, the integrity of her determination to 
write only of what to her seemed important, that sets her apart from many other 
writers whose works were once read and are now forgotten. Perhaps John Cham- 
berlain best expressed the value of Susan Glaspell's work in his review of her sixth 
novel, Ambrose Holt and Family: "If Henry Seidel Canby is still looking for the 
'unknown man'-in this case the unknown woman-who consistently goes his own 
fruitful way through the wasteland of America that is to be beheld, let him turn 
and contemplate the career of Susan Glaspell . "^ 



2 

Iowa Heritage 



"I live by the sea, hut the body of water 1 have the nu)st feeling about is the 
Mississippi River, where I used to vow and skate, ride i)n the terry in ehildhood, 
wateh the logs or just dream. "" vsrote Susan Glaspell near the end of her life.' 
Perhaps it is understandable that this wt)man. who kept her grandmother's spin- 
ning wheel in her Provineetown house and who used the Mississippi valley as the 
setting for many of her plays and novels, should feel strong ties with a region that 
has faseinated visitor and settler alike sinee pioneer days. 

In 1839 Susan's great-grandfather James Glaspell brought his wife and eight 
ehildren to Davenport. Iowa, a Mississippi River town of about 500 inhabitants. 
Soon to be named the eounty seat o\' Seott County. Iowa, Davenport was built 
on the site of Oshkosh. the former village of the Sauk and Fox Indians, that had 
been eeded to the L'nited States as a result of the Black Hawk War of 1832. Three 
years later Colonel George Davenport, quartermaster and Indian trader, formed 
a company and platted the city of Davenport. There the Glaspells survived floods, 
cholera epidemics, currency riots, and border skirmishes with Missouri squatters, 
as well as a particularly harrowing incident occasioned by some Indians who 
wanted to buy Susan's great-aunt Ruth Glaspell, offering first some furs and an 
Indian pony and later some squaws and a papot)se. As crises such as these sub- 
sided, the Glaspells began to prosper as farmers and merchants. In later years they 
would be active in the Pioneer Settlers Association, the Davenport Board of 
Trade , and the Christian Church . - 

Although she frequently gave her birth date as I July 1882, Susan Glaspell's 
name does not appear in the records of babies born on that date in Scott County. 
However, the Scott County Census of 1 880 lists a four-year-old Susie Glaspell. 
as well as a one-year-old Frank and a five-year-old Charles, as a member of Alice 
and Elmer Glaspell's household at 502 Cedar Street. Drake University records in- 
dicate that Susan gave her age as twenty-one when she matriculated m the fall 
of 1897; however, when she enrolled in a literature course at the University of 
Chicago during the summer of 1901 she gave her birthdate as I July 1877. The 
best evidence suggests that Susan Glaspell was born in 1876. the year o\' Ameri- 
ca's Centennial celebration. 

The year 1876 was also a landmark for Davenport, which had gri)wn from a 
trading post where pigs routed in the streets and Indians menaced the settlers into 
a booming city of plow works and sawmills. In part. Davenport's rapid develop- 
ment was a result of its strategic location on the Mississippi River and the comple- 
tion of the railroad through the area, but the well-educated and prosperous Ger- 
mans who left Europe during the revolutions of the 1840s helped transform 



14 SUSAX G I AS PELL 



Da\enpoit into a cit\ of cultuial as well as industrial iiiiportaiicc. One ot these 
men. Charles Auyust Fieke. wnukl later heeoine niaxor of Davenport. He de- 
scribed theeit) in the l<S7()s in his autohioyraphx . Memories oj Foiirseore Years: 
"In l<S7(S the Academy of Science opened three ancient mounds at the edye o{ 
the hlutt' near Hast I)a\enpiMt. Street cars drawn h\ mules began to run on f-our- 
tcenth Street. Residents o'( Brady Street protested against street ears being hauled 
up that street b\ a steam motor. The Iowa Rail Road Land Companx . in Da\enpi)rt 
papers, advertised a million acres o^ Iowa land for sale. People with means went 
to Saratoga Springs on theii' summer vacation. People without means spent their 
week ends at Linwood Sulphur Springs near But't'aK) | Iowa]."" ' 

Not much is known of Susan GlaspelPs childhood during these \ears. A 
Davenport newspaper report o\ hex P)32 visit to Hngland notes that "'Miss Glas- 
pelPs early connection w ith Davenport makes her literarv achievement and herself 
the object of unusual interest to old friends in her home \o\\n. some of whom recall 
the prect)cious. prettv little girl w ith a penchant for bringing home the lagged and 
hungry and making such queer friends in odd places."""' This ctimment 
foreshadows the Susan Glaspell who would later live in Greenwich Village and 
write plavs about wi)men"s rights. Freudian psvchc)logv . and radical jiminalism. 
However. Susan Glaspell was also a girl who could take pride in her familv "s oid- 
Davenpoil heritage and claim her rightful place in Davenport society, which 
meant lessons in china painting and French. The social life of popular Davenpt)rt 
girls included picnics at Schuet/en Park, balls at the Outing Club, and river carni- 
vals featuring illuminated vessels transformed for the evening into Venetian gon- 
dolas gliding slowly down the Mississippi. 

Susan GlaspelPs fondest Davenport memories were of the river, and in the 
unpublished reminiscence cited above, she writes o^ sleigh rides across the ice 
to Ri)ck Island, ferry rides, and steamboat rides: '"Sometimes the whole crowd 
w't)uld go as far as Muscatine or again up the river to Clinton. There would be 
moonlight excursions the river so beautiful you would wonder what was going 
to happen to you-AII dav picnics-going over m skiffs to the island just beknv 
Davenport: the fried chicken, and siime of the men fishing and boys and girls row- 
ing under the low-hanging willows. Sometimes getting stuck and hav ing to push 
off with an oar. and once tipping over and all the girls screaming, though onl\ 
up to the waist. "'^ 

Susan's schi)olvvork played as important a part in her life as did parties and 
excursions, however. The girl whom ni)velist Alice French described as "the 
brightest girl in the city" studied Latin, science, mathematics, rhetoric, literature, 
drawing, English, civics, and pt)litical economy at Davenport High School, 
graduating in 1894.'' After graduation, she began work as a rept)rteron the Daven- 
port Morniiif^ Repithlhai}, then edited bv Charles Fugene Banks. Trideni. a k)cal 
magazine, described her at this time as "a rosy-cheeked girl with balky hair that 
insisted on falling between her vision and the copy on which she labored, but she 
wrote some pretty things through the tangles even in those davs." ' In .lulv o{ I S96. 
Banks began to publish the Weekly Outlook, a si)cietv magazine "'devoted lo 



IOWA HERITAGE J5 



Home and OutiiiL! Life. Lilcraturc. Ait. Music and the Drama.'" The masthead 
of each issue tidm .Iul\ ol' I S^)6 to .lul> ol 1SW7 hsts • 'Susie K. (ihispeH" as Soei- 
et\ Hditor. 

F.\en in pioneer da\s. I^axenporl was known as a eit\ ol unusual eultural op- 
poitunit\ . boasting a l.\eeuni. a ^■ounJ: Man's l.ihraiy Assoeiation, a liberal arts 
eolleiie. and se\eral newspapers The eit\ was a Irequent stoppinii point lor slu)w- 
hoats. eneuses. tra\elini: theatei' trou[X's. and leetureis sueh as Ralph Waldo 
Hmerson. Horaee Cireele\ . and Weiuiell Phillips. The IX9()s saw Paderevvski per- 
torminy at the Biutis Opera House and I . I). Maeke\ "s l.iiiht Opera Company 
presenting ""The Mikadi)." ""The Pirates of IVn/anee." and ""The H.M.S. Pina- 
fore" at Blaek Hawk's Wateh Tower. Several i^tKuiuelions ol' Shakespeare's 
pla\s, including Oihcllo. Hcinilci. and Mm hcih. were seen in the Turner Orand 
Opera House. 

It is not surprising, theretore. to lind "Social Life" in the VVV('A7y Outlook 
often taking up the sub|ect of the theater. The January 1 897 issue contains an ironi- 
cal guide lo conduct lor theater-goers. ""It must be so gratifying to the players to 
see their audiences beating a hast\ retreat through the door, leaving them to act 
for fi\e minutes to empt\ seats." the author writes. "One would be led to think 
that the management of the house hail t)!Tered a premium to the man, woman, or 
child who stepped on the sidewalk first. "^ Some of the "rules" of conduct for 
theater-goers indicate an empathy with theater people that foreshadows Susan's 
later inxohemenl v\ ith the Pro\ incetowii Players as one o{ their leading plawv- 
rights and actresses. 

Susan was not alwa\ s able to be this irre\erent in her column; much ot the 
time she was obliged to report the comings and goings o\' prominent Davenport 
citi/ens: their dinner parties and outings, their travels abroad, and the visits of out- 
of-town guests. 

Other columns tackle more serious topics such as women's education. De- 
fending the right of women to a college education, she denies the allegation that 
female college graduates are "merely sexless exponents of higher education." 
Her reply, though it expresses a firm belief in education for women, is careful 
to note that femininity is not destroyed by learning. "If I believed this it would 
make me most unhapp\ and 1 would leel compelled to start tiMiight on a holy pil- 
grimage lo burn all the women's colleges in the land. Hui fortunately, heaxen 
made me an optimist, so 1 can laugh m_\' own fears away and persuade m\ self that 
girls will be girls till the end of time."'' 

Shortly after she wrote this column on women and higher education. Susan 
Glaspell resigned her position on the Weekly Outlook and enrolled at Drake Uni- 
versity. By Iowa standards. Susan's college enrollment was an audacious act for 
a young woman of the I89()s. F.li/abeth McCollough Bray later reported in the 
Davenport Deiuoi rat and Leader. "It was in the mauve decade that an adventur- 
ous Davenport maiden had the temerity to go to college. Before that, young ladies 
had been edueated at academies and institutes and the finishing school was coming 
into voiiue. This iiirl brought home a bachelor's degree. She was regarded some- 



16 SUSAN GLASPELL 



what askance, people wondered if it wasn't possible she was a little queer. For 
a time her health was said to be wrecked from overstudy. but she led an active 
life for many long years."'" 

At Drake the society girl aspects of Susan's personality won her acceptance 
among the popular, fun-loving students who comprised the social elite at the uni- 
versity. "The picture of her that springs clearest in my mind is of a slender form 
enveloped in one of those ample white nightgowns of twenty-five years ago seated 
on a little antique rush-bottomed chair in my dressing room, long slim hands 
clasped about her knees, a soft cloud of dark hair framing her pale face, her great, 
gray eyes glowing with enthusiasm as she voiced enthralling theories of life and 
love," former classmate Dorothy Fowler Heald reminisced. "She was my first 
heroine in the flesh, a glamorous presence of poetry and romance who fired one's 
imagination and made all glorious things seem possible. Her personality was a 
flame in the light of the student body, or at any rate in the group that felt them- 
selves the social and literary leaders . " " 

Susan's interests went beyond the social side of college life, however. She 
studied Greek, French, psychology, philosophy, history, and the literature of the 
Bible. Although she was often ill and at one point hospitalized during her college 
career, she accumulated a list of honors that included winning first prize in an 
oratorical contest in which she debated the subject of Bismarck and European poli- 
tics. She also contributed frequently to the Delphic, the college literary magazine, 
served as Vice-President of the Debating Society, and participated in commence- 
ment exercises in June of 1 899, giving a short talk at the alumni banquet and con- 
tributing a story at ceremonies held the previous day. 

After graduating from Drake on 15 June 1899 with a bachelor of philosophy 
degree, Susan began work for the Des Moines Daily News as statehouse and legis- 
lative reporter. "I knew nothing at all about politics," she later confessed, "and 
I wouldn't have had the least idea of what was going on, except that some of the 
legislators took pity on me and told me enough news to keep me from being dis- 
gracefully scooped."'- Later she supplemented her reporting with editorial com- 
mentary in a column called "The News Girl," in which she discussed such topics 
as the National Congress of Mothers, the state field meet, Iowa legislators, Des 
Moines lawyers, and rural living. Sometimes this column was a serious commen- 
tary on the issues of the day, as when she criticized the superficiality of a recent 
convention of the National Congress of Mothers in Des Moines. 

More often, however, Glaspell attempts a tongue-in-cheek tone that falters for 
want of consistency, as when she mocks the blase attitudes of the state legislators 
and the triviality of their daily concerns; "... the house is active, it is not charac- 
teristic of it to spend three days in grave discussion as to who shall cut weeds out 
on the public highways. The senate corrects what the house does, true it may not 
need correction, but nevertheless, it must be corrected. If there is nothing else to 
be done the words 'of Iowa' can be added after 'the state. ' This is always in order, 
and serves the purpose of making the house take another vote and realize its youth 
and insufficiency. " ' ' This essay is diffuse and unfocused, varying in tone as Glas- 



IOWA HERITAGE 17 



pell moves from a send-up of the ponipous scnaic to a spinicd (.Iclcnsc olihc house 
and of the worthwhile bills thai lia\c been delealed and eoneliides wiih a more 
serious discussion o^ the inortlinale amount ol power wielded b\ a lew men in 
high positions in the legislature. 

An even less successful essay depicts the narrator as a cit\-bretl sophisticate 
who ventures into the countr\ t() initiate the unsuspecting resitlents into the ways 
of the world. Although the coknnn is meant to be humorous, the tone is so badl\ 
managed that the reader ends up laughing at the hapless narrator rather ihaii w ith 
her: 

My intention was to impress Uncle .lerry with the extent ol his inability. 
I would talk about elevators, department stores antl street eats in a 
suave off-hand manner. I would casually mention the names and ad- 
dresses of our famous and mighty men. That woiikl occasion a leartul 
and impressive respect for me in the verdant mind ot m\ bewildered 
uncle. Next 1 would assume the management of the farm according to 
my ideas and demonstrate the antiquity of the ordinary methods. I 
would supplant the ox with the automobile, and pave instead of plow- 
ing the fields. 1 have a theory that if a corn field were paved, leaving 
out a brick for each hill, it would increase the yield, do away entirely 
with the mud and give the farmer plenty of time to meditate on lofty 
subjects. That is only one theory. I have many others. '"* 

Although her columns were popular and she enjoyed reporting, Susan Glaspell 
decided to try her luck as a free-lance fiction writer. "After less than two years 
of newspaper reporting, I boldly gave up my job and went home to Davenport 
to give all my time to my own writing. I say boldly because I had to earn my liv- 
ing," she wrote in an autobiographical essay for Twentieth Century Authors. ^^ 
As a free-lance writer, she made good use of her political experience, drawing 
on this background for several stories about Iowa politics published between 1 903 
and 1912. Most of them were later collected in Lifted Masks, a 1912 edition of 
her short stories. It is appropriately titled, for the typical protagonist of her early 
fiction is a sort of "closet idealist" who eventually reveals an inner core of integ- 
rity under a cynical exterior. These stories are intriguing and unusual in that they 
delve into the cloakroom activities of state politics: the machine's iron grip on the 
party, the powerful railroad interests that control the state legislature, the growing 
influence of the Progressive Movement, and the continuous parade of political 
hopefuls and has-beens. 

However interesting the stories are in matter-and Glaspell" s dialogue and de- 
scription make them more so-they are ploddingly conventional in method, most 
following a formula that presents a public figure faced with what is supposed to 
be an agonizing moral choice. At the beginning of the story, he is all set to embark 
upon the Wrong Way, because the Right Way would involve almost certain politi- 
cal disaster or personal sacrifice. He chooses the Right Way when he is brought 
to see himself in a radically different way, usually as a result of his coming to 



18 



SUSAN GLASPELL 




Susan (il(i\/>i II ill iihoitUiiic 7. 



IOWA HERITAGE 



19 




^S TBp' ^^ 



V 





Susan Glaspell ill about age IS. 



20 



SUSAN GLASPELL 




IOWA HERITAGE 21 



identity with the underdoi: in the stor\ . A Hne troin "The Man t)t' I'lesh and 
Blood" sums up this situation sueeinetK: '■'llieie is ^^oo{\ and there is had ni e\er\ 
human heart and it is the struggle otht'e toeonquei the bad u ilii the gt)od."""' 

In this story. Phillip Grayson, a eandidate lor govenu)r. is waiting to sjieak 
at the dedieation of a hoys' retormator\ . A t\ pieal Glaspell protagonist in a typieal 
Glaspeli situation, he is a publie figure who will soon be faeed with his Moment 
of Truth-he must deeide whether to give the eonventional admonition to be good 
eitizens or to open his heart and reveal his own youthful lollies. Alter putting him- 
self in the boys" plaees and listening to the eomplaeent hypoerisy of the speakers 
that preeede him, he. of eourse. ehooses the latter, even though it means risking 
his eleetion as governor. 

Also typieal of these stories are the sentimental tone and the intrusion o{ the 
author into the narrative: "Oh for a man o\ flesh and blood to stand up and tell 
how he himself had sinned and suffered! For a man whoeould bridge that damning 
ehasm with strong, broad human understanding and human sympathies a man 
who eould stand among them pulse-beat to pulse-beat and ery out. 'I know! I un- 
derstand! I fought it. and Til help you fight ittoo!"'"'^ 

Despite the faults of the ptilitieal stories, they sold well, and in May of 1903. 
the Dcs Moines Daily News reported. "It is a great pleasure to many lowans to 
know that Miss Susan Keating Glaspell is meeting with very Haltering sueeess 
as a writer o\ short stories.""'^ The artiele reeapitulated .Susan's eollege honors 
and her work on the Dnily News and eoneluded with a eomment on the sueeess 
of her short stories. "Several have appeared in the eolumns of the Youth' s Com- 
panion. Reeently the publishers of that journal wrote Miss Glaspell saying that 
they were about to use the last of the eontributions she had submitted to them and 
urged her to write more. They said her stories were so well reeeived by their read- 
ers that they wished at all times to have one or more on hand. " ''' 

The Youth's Companion stories show little development in Susan Glaspell's 
fietional teehniques. but they do show her highly developed pereeption of the 
values and interests of a speeifie audienee and her ability to write for that audience. 
Young women, rather than politicians, people these stories; Susan Glaspell places 
them in unfamiliar and difficult situations and demonstrates that the old-fashioned 
virtues and character traits they possess effect the resolutions o\ their problems. 
Two of these stories. "The Boycott on Caroline" and "The Girl from Down- 
town." are interesting in that they foreshadow Susan Glaspell's concern with the 
conflict between the individual and society that will appear in later novels and 
plays. 

The big city background of "The Girl trom Downtown" is a new element in 
Susan Glaspell's fiction and reflects her move to Chicago during the summer of 
1902 to enroll at the University of Chicago for postgraduate work in literature. 
This Chicago background is used in several of her early short stories as well as 
in her flrst two novels and later in her eighth no\el. Norma Ashe. For the most 
part, the stories bear the unmistakable signs of the inexperienced writer: plenty 
of adjectives and adverbs, a sentimental situation, loo much (.lialoguc and too little 



SUSAX Gl AS PELL 



action, and improbable endings. One of these stories. "At the Turn ol'the Road."" 
opens with the unl'ortunate line. "The rain poured uncompromisingly down and 
down, and the State Street crov\d swarmed unceasingly on.""-^" It is the stor\' o'i 
a young girl from Des Moines who is studying art in Chicago and is too poor to 
go home for Christmas. She meets a wealth) stranger, also from Des Moines, who 
has sacrificed personal relationships for private ambitions; he tells her that ""the 
human heart was not made to feed up(Mi gratified ambition.""'-' Since there is no 
one in Des Moines he cares to visit, he gives her the mone\ lor a trip home, so 
that she will noX have to sacrifice her friends to her career. This story is almost 
unbearably bad. yet the theme, the conllicting demands ot art and society upon 
the artist, is one that Susan Glaspell will learn to treat more skillfully in later 
works. 

Susan returned to Davenpt>rt after living in Chicago to find that she had he- 
come somewhat o{ a local cclebritv . The 30 .luly l'^)()4 issue o'i Tinleni featured 
a story on Susan's literary career, mentioning her publications in such magazines 
as the Metropoliuin. the NiiiionuL and BUick Cm. which had recently awarded 
her a $500 prize. The story reviewed Susan's journalism experience in Davenport 
and in Des Moines and bri)ught the reader up-to-date on her more recent ac- 
complishments. "Miss Glaspell has Just recentiv' returned from the Winona Lake 
meeting of literari over which Charles Eugene Banks presided and to the program 
of which he was a liberal and valued contributor. Miss Glaspell contributed one 
of her charming stories to the program.""" Another TrUlcnt article, published in 
the 4 Febmary 1905 issue, mentioned a story that Susan write for the Chicay,(> 
Daily Review about Missouri"s newly elected Governor Folk, in which she em- 
phasized his sense of duty to the state and to the public as a reform candidate. 

In addition to writing, Susan became involved in Davenport cultural activities. 
In 1905 she chaired the literary committee of the Davenport Amateur Musical 
Club, and in 1906 she was elected to the Tuesdav Club, presenting a paper entitled 
"The Influence of the Press" to this group in 1907. 

By the first decade of the twentieth century Susan Cilaspell had become a suc- 
cessful writerof popular fiction and a respected member of the Davenport commu- 
nity. Her family background, if nt)t her financial resources, was sufficient to se- 
cure her admittance to the most prestigious of Davenport social circles; she be- 
longed to a respectable church, was a graduate of a good university, and wrote 
stories that taught sound moral lessons to her readers. Her future seemed predicta- 
ble: she would succeed Alice French as Davenport's literary leading lady, selling 
short stories to the Ladies' Home JouniaL living quietly at home vv ith her parents, 
attending church services and meetings of the Tuesday Club. 

Perhaps her life might \\o\ have taken the turn that it did had the midwestern 
community in question been any but Davenport, a city that was hardly typical of 
those that grew up in America's heartland during the I9()0s. The rivermen. in the 
heyday of steamboats and rafts, were ready customers for the saloons and brothels 
that made up a red-light district along the riverfront. This "Ikicktown" area be- 



IOWA HERITAGE 23 



came so inniirious as to proxokc Hislinp Hcnr\ Cosyrow's remark that l)a\eiiport 
was '"the wickedest cit\ lor its si/e in Ameiica,""" '' and to prompt the trustees 
()[' lov\a College to seek a new site lor their C(^llet:e that was less ihieatenine to 
the moral and intellectual de\elo[iment ot their students. B\ h)().X there were 240 
saloons in Scott Count), and racketeer John l.ooney controlled an empue ol 
taverns, gambling dens. h()rdellos. aiul theaters that gave Da\enpt)rl the reputa- 
tion i>r a wide-open western town where ct)ck and bulldog tights, ratbaiting. and 
prize fights were good sport, and lK|Uor. pornographic pictures, ami high-\aller 
women could be had for the askmg. 

Davenport's tVee-wheeling reputation prevailed in intellectual and political 
matters as well. Si)cialist meetings were held in Turner Hall, the community cen- 
ter. The trade union movement nourished in Davenport; in IS94 thirty-two of the 
city's unions met with Mavor Vollmer to advise him of their demands. Atheists, 
free-thinkers, poets, union organizers, and socialists found Davenport \o be a city 
where tolerance prevailed over narrow-mindedness. One of these groups, the 
Monist Societv . would somedav become influential in Davenport politics. The 
members o\ this group believed that "modern thought is forced to discard 
dualism. There are not two worlds, there is one. Modern thought believes, that 
is. in monism (one-ism). At first, when it was seen that there was only one world, 
men said. "Then there is onl\ the natural world and there is no spiritual world." 
That was materialism -the practical, working faith of the world today, a faith that 
is woven into nearh' everv actit)n of nearK every man. But a few have looked 
deeper and seen this; "The natural world is the spiritual world, and the spiritual 
world /.v the natural world.""""' 

Perhaps the Monist Society's philosophy appealed to Susan Glaspell's idealis- 
tic proclivities; perhaps she was merely eager for some stimulating intellectual 
companionship, .^t any rate, she Joined the group and discovered that a delicious 
sense of impropriety could be derived fiom the association: "Declining to go to 
church with my parents in the morning. 1 would ostentatiously set out t\)r the 
Monist Societv in the afternoon, down an obscure street which it seemed a little 
improper to be walking on. as everything was closed for Sunday, upstairs through 
a son of side entrance over a saloon."""^ 

Susan"s simultaneous association with the Tuesday Club and the Monist Soci- 
ety reflected the conflicting aspects o{ her personality. On Tuesday afternoons. 
Susan the society girl sipped tea with Davenport matrons; on Sundays. Susan the 
social reformer plotted with free-thinkers and socialists to win influence in the 
Davenport political scene. 

Susan's involvement with the Monist Society brought her into contact with 
intellectuals such as the Rabbi Fineschreiber, socialist reporter Floyd Dell, libra- 
rian Marilla Freeman, the pool .\rthur Davison Ficke. socialist mail carrier Fritz 
Feuchter. and George Cram Cv)ok , called Jig by his friends, a graduate of Harvard, 
who had taught at Stanford and the University of Iowa. "''Then in his mid-thirties. 
Jig was the son of Edward P. Cook, legal counsel ftir the Rock Island Railroad, 
tzrandson of Coneressman and banker John P. Cook, great-grandson o^ pioneer 



24 SUSAN GLASPELL 



settler Ira Cook, and great-great grandson o^ Ebenezer Cook, minuteman at 
Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and captain of the Revolutionary Army in Boston. 

In apparent disregard of family tradition. Jig Cook had recently resigned his 
position at Stanford and retired to the family estate near Buffalo, Iowa, to raise 
vegetables and write. His romantic novel, Roderick Taliaferro, had been pub- 
lished by Macmillan; at this time he was at work on a more serious venture, a 
socialist novel entitled. The Chasm. His interest in Nietzschean individualism had 
been diverted to socialism by Floyd Dell, whom he met around 1903; in 1907 Dell 
came to live with him at the Buffalo estate to work as a hired man. 

The Cook estate was popularly termed "the Cabin"; actually it was more of 
a southern plantation, complete with tennis courts, a stable for riding horses, and 
three kitchens that were ruled by old black Sarah. A butler and a footman in livery 
had once impressed the friends that Jig and his brother brought home from college; 
now the guests at the Cabin were likely to be Jig's socialist or literarv friends. 

Susan Glaspell became a frequent visitor to the Cabin, and she soon found 
the conversation of socialists more stimulating than the dreary literary papers read 
by her friends in the Tuesday Club. Her interest in the group that met at Jig Cook's 
family estate was not merely intellectual or political, and; for his part. Jig found 
it difficult to keep his relationship with Susan on a purely intellectual basis. 

By 1907 Jig was separated from his first wife Sarah Herndon Swain and had 
become engaged to Mollie Price, a Chicago newswoman whom he had met in 
Moline at a meeting of the Chicago Press Club. At this time Mollie was working 
in New York with Emma Goldman on the anarchist Journal Mother Earth. ""Saw 
Susie Glaspell last night," Jig wrote to Mollie in November of 1907. "'T'was 
grand to get such new mental pictures of you. Also, the girl herself is charming. 
I never realized it.""^ "Susie read Floyd and me part of her novel," he reported 
to Mollie three weeks later. "Tis great good stuff! Susie terrifies me with her over- 
powering ideal of life-long constancy to an early and vanished love. I couldn't 
help observing apropos o^ it that I myself was 'so fickle. ' "You are rather dread- 
ful,' said she. I wasn't quite so much afraid of her just then, but golly! Sweet as 
she is. she inspires such an attitude that to think of my kissing her is as though 
a devout Catholic should picture himself flirting with the Virgin Mary. Not but 
what it would be nice."-^ In January of 1908, when Mollie arrived in Davenport 
to marry Jig. she could no longer ignore the hints in his letters: her fiance had 
fallen in love with another woman. 

Perhaps Susan realized the danger inherent in the situation and sought to avoid 
trouble, for she was often in New York and Chicago after this time, ostensibly 
seeing to the publication of the novel that Jig wrote of to Mollie. The Gh>ry of 
the Conquered was published in March of 1909 while Susan and her friend Lucy 
Huffaker were traveling in Europe. 

Susan Glaspell's first novel was a great success, inspiring brisk sales and good 
reviews. "There is a breadth of thought and depth of feeling in its conception as 
a whole that is remarkable in sii young a writer," raved a hometown paper.-'' But 
the plaudits were not limited to chauvinistic small town newspapers. "Unless 



IOWA HERITAGE 25 



Susan Glaspell is an assumed name . . . The Cilorx of the Coiu/iicrcd hrinys t\)i- 
ward a new author (it Tine and notable gilts."" praised tlieVcu' )'<iik rimes. ^" 

Despite its exeellent reviews. The Cllory oj the C'oiu/iwrid strikes the modern 
reader as a period pieee, its jxiges sulTused w ith sentimentahiN . nnprobabilities. 
melodramatie ineidents. and the youthful idealism of a first no\elist. This story 
of a researeh seientist whose artist wife gixes up her own eareer ti) work as his 
lab a.ssistant when he beeomes blind suffers from struetural Haws, eliehes. sappy 
dialogue, and blatantly obvious symbolism. Its one redeeming feature is its thor- 
ough grounding in an idealism that reealls not only the Transeendentalism o\ 
Emerson, but the idealism oi sueh German philosophers as Kant. Fiehte. and 
Sehelling. This aspeet of Susan's work may have stemmed from her study of phi- 
losophy at Drake University; undoubtedly, the intelieetuai ambienee of Da\enport 
also was an influenee. 

The Gh)r\ of the Coni/uered was published while Susan and Luey Huffaker 
were living in the Latin Quarter in Paris. Letters to friends, as well as an interview 
Susan gave to the Davenport Democrat upon her return in .lune of 1909, indieate 
that the trip was meant to give Susan a well-earned rest. Susan and Luey first vis- 
ited Holland and Belgium before settling in Paris, whieh Susan deseribed as a 
plaee where '"'surroundings are in perfeet harmony with the reeeptive mood and 
invite and stimulate inspiration.""^' In the Latin Quarter Luey wrote someartieles 
for American magazines and sent stories to the New York papers while Susan 
worked on some short stories and sketches and worked out the plan for a second 
novel. They also went to concerts and operas, and visited with other writers and 
artists in the Quarter, among them the Russian painter Ma/zanovich. who gave 
Susan one of his paintings. 

The trip may also have been a way of escaping a difficult situation at home. 
A letter from Susan's mother, upon her receipt of her copy of The Glory of the 
Conquered, indicates this: "1 so often have worried dear about you away from 
home so much and a bright attractive girl like you exposed to so many temptations, 
but you know dear 1 believe a girl with such high thoughts as those portrayed in 
this book could never come to harm. Surely her Maker would protect and guard 
her and give her strength to resist all such."^' Susans family, although never as 
wealthy or socially prominent as Jig's, had always been highly respected in 
Davenport, and the Glaspell men had been elders in the Christian Church ever 
since its founding. A letter from Susan's father while she was away at college re- 
quested her to write her brother Ray "a letter of good religious tone and high moral 
bearing as well also as a kind and sisterly letter. Bear in mind that he is among 
many strangers and undoubtedly is exposed to temptations that you have no idea 
of. Don't forget this. Consider it both your duty and privilege. " '^ 

During her college years Susan may have had no idea of the temptations Ray 
would have been exposed to. but now temptation was definitely a problem tor her 
as well. For a time, her desire for respectability and social approval defeated her 
more rebellious inclinations. After she returned from Paris in 1909. Susan axoided 



26 SUSAN GLASPFLL 



Davenport, spending four months in Monte Vista. Colorado, with Mabel Brown, 
a Davenport friend who had taken a job with the Forest Service there. She returned 
to Davenport in January of 1910 and continued to work on her second novel. In 
June she addressed the Tuesday Club on "The Literary Legacy of the Victorian 
Age." 

But temptation proved irresistible, and soon Susan resumed seeing her old 
friends from the Monist Society. In February of 1910, while attending a meeting 
at the Labor Lyceum. Susan sparked a controversy that would embroil hundreds 
of Davenport residents in a censorship question that would ultimately affect the 
outcome of the spring mayoral election . 

Years later, in a short story called "'Finality' in Freeport." Susan suggested 
that the controversy was little more than an excuse for truculent Davenporters to 
wage war.^"* In actuality, the Davenport papers featured the story prominently for 
several weeks. It began with a question from Susan to the Rabbi Fineschreiber. 
who had just spoken on religion, regarding a book called The Finality of the Chris- 
tian Religion. Her point was that since the book committee had recommended its 
purchase, the failure of the full library board to buy it was tantamount to censor- 
ship. 

For weeks the controversy raged under the auspices of the Davenport Democ- 
rat and Leader, which printed letters from both supporters and opponents of the 
board's action. A group called the Ethical Society censured the library board and 
invited the book's author to lecture on March 17. Petitions began to circulate in 
support of the book, and a Unitarian clergyman reviewed it before a packed audi- 
ence on March 6 at the Labor Lyceum. Still, the library board, unmoved even 
by its author's appearance at a well-attended meeting, refused to purchase the 
book. 

The protesters then moved the question into the political arena. Recalling the 
situation in her biography of Jig, The Road to the Temple. Susan writes, "We 
even became powerful and changed the city election. The Library Board refusing 
to buy a book called The Finality of the Christian Religion, we wrote the papers 
such stinging letters, bcnh Monistically and individually, that the short-sighted 
candidate for mayor who had first defended the Board was quite snowed under 
by enlightenment. "'*"' 

Since Susan's involvement with the censorship controversy brought her in 
contact with Jig and Mollie. she again became a frequent visitor at the Cabin, this 
time on the pretext of collaborating with Jig on a novel. It was not long before 
Floyd Dell, now ii Chicago working as editor of the Friday Literary Review of 
the Chicago Fvening Post, began to hear o\' Susi;n's frequent visits to the Cook 
estate in his letters from Jig. 

Susan and I had a day of creative energy liere aboul a girl going to the 
city to seek her social salvation-a t/ui'siess-you will recognize the 
model. We telephoned the model to cmnc down and tell the story of 
her life we wanted to put her in a book . She did and somehow the real- 



IOWA HERITAGE 27 



ity-gravcr. weightier than our incipient dream. overwhehiK-d us Be- 
fore that, Susan wanted to play with a socialist-individualist contrast 
between the girl and the man, and I suggested having them each con- 
vert the other and wind up on the other side. We rejoiced in that until 
our model arrived and then-her socialism is such a deep slow growth 
having so many roots far hack in her experience that we felt how shal- 
low and unreal it was to tr\ to uproot such a thing/*'' 

Jig concluded with the cdrninent that he had not seen Susan since that day and 
requested Floyd to write him about some new ideas for their book, ending the letter 
with the suggestion that if Floyd would do this, Susan might come out to visit 
him again: "'The writing will of course be its own reward, but Susan is on the 
verge of writing to you. and, if you wrote a valuably suggestive letter to me about 
//?/.v-do you see? she'd fall off the verge. I prophesy."" 

Whether or not Floyd wrote to Jig about this literar) project is uncertain, but 
Susan did, indeed, fall off the verge. When Floyd and his wife Margery Currey 
arrived to spend their vacation with the Cooks at the Cabin that summer. Jig took 
Floyd aside and explained that it was Susan and not Mollie that he really loved. 
That summer. Mollie, expecting a child in August, endured evenings during 
which Jig and Susan would disappear frotn the house for hours while she clung 
to the window screen awaiting his return. 

Davenport society soon began to buzz with rumors about Jig Cook's newest 
infatuation, and even free-thinking Davenporters were not pleased with this state 
of affairs. Floyd Dell, who had been sympathetic when Jig was divorcing his first 
wife, now believed that this father o\ two took his marriage vows too lightly. 
■"How many times are you going to ask me to believe in your eternal love for 
some girl?'" he asked Jig."'*^ The Rabbi Fineschreiber was equally distressed by 
the affair. "I have come to the mature conclusion that The Third Party is an 
amateur vampire." he wrote to Floyd Dell, adding that Jig was "a child who tires 
of his toys too easily."^'' A letter to Floyd from Jig dated 12 September 1910 
notes, "Can't see S. at all here. Lovely situation. Mollie seems to have sloughed 
all bitterness.'-^*' 

In the spring of 191 1 , Jig separated from Mollie and moved to Chicago, where 
for a short time he worked on a dictionary and then became Floyd Dell's assistant 
on the Eriday Literary Review. Susan traveled to New York to arrange for the pub- 
lication of her second novel in March of that year."^' She then returned to Daven- 
port to cope with the aftermath of her affair with Jig and await the publication 
of her second novel. The Visioning, set on the Rock Island Arsenal in the Missis- 
sippi River. 

The main plot of this novel concerns the education of Katie Wainwright Jones, 
daughter and sister of Army officers, who becomes interested in socialism, evolu- 
tion, pacifism, and feminism, and whose subsequently altered view of life con- 
flicts sharply with the values of the military society of which she has always been 
a part. The Visioning was not well received by some of its more conservative read- 



28 SUSAN GLASPELL 



ers. In Iowa: Its History and Its Foremost Citizens, editor Johnson Brigham of- 
fered the following critique: 

The Visioning docs not compare with her strong novel. The Gh>r\ of 
the Conquered. One seems straight out of the heart; the other, in spite 
of some admirable scenes, seems labored and not absolutely sincere. 
And the heroine, or the semi-heroine, Ann, is a neurotic young person 
who is no better than she should be and whom the average chilly- 
hearted reader wishes heartily at the bottom of the Mississippi, where 
she tried to fling herself in the first-and best-chapter. But in Miss Glas- 
pell's short stories the blight which socialism seems to cast upon her 
artistic sense is not visible . . . .""^ 

Johnson Brigham's assessment of the literary merits of The Visionini^ may have 
been shortsighted, but his comments indicate a change in Susan GlaspelTs person- 
ality that was reflected in her second novel. The respectable society girl had be- 
come a rebellious free-thinker, and the title of the novel seems prophetic in this 
regard, evoking a visioning of more mature work, in which the ideas that Katie, 
as well as Susan Glaspell, is just beginning to explore will be more fully de- 
veloped. 



3 

Provincetown Years 



In February of 1913 New Wirkers who attended the art show at the 69th Regi- 
ment Armory were shoeked by Mareel Duehamp's Nude Descending, a Staircase, 
mainly beeause they were unable to findeitheranudeorastairease in the painting. 
In June of the same year, hundreds of silk workers from Paterson. New Jersey, 
marched into Madison Square Garden toreenaet the events of their ongoing strike. 
Also in 1913, a nurse named Margaret Sanger, appalled by the teeming families 
of the New York slums, began her campaign to win for women the right to control 
their own reproductive lives, and on 14 April I9I3. Susan Glaspell and George 
Cram Cook were married by the mayor of Weehawken . New Jersey . 

The latter event may seem less of a cultural milestone than the three previously 
mentioned, but Susan and Jig's union, in time, proved as significant for the de- 
velopment of the American theater as the Armory show was for art and the birth 
control movement was for feminism. Inspired by the authentic American drama 
in such contemporary events as the Paterson pageant, Susan and Jig, founded in 
the summer of 1915 the Provincetown Players, a little theater group dedicated to 
the production of uniquely American plays that dramatized contemporary issues 
such as the struggles of trade union organizers, the revolution in art, and changing 
sexual mores. 

At this time, one of the most provocative new topics was Freudian psycholo- 
gy, popularized to such an extent that dreams and neuroses became common sub- 
jects of conversation at cocktail parties. '"You could not go out to buy a bun with- 
out hearing of someone's complex," Susan recalled. ' Others found the new psy- 
chology unbearably offensive. At one of Mabel Dodge Luhan's Wednesday Eve- 
nings, a presentation by a Freudian analyst prompted some of the more staid guests 
to walk out on their hostess. But Susan and Jig, amused rather than incensed by 
the current Freudian frenzy, wrote Suppressed Desires, satirizing the would-be 
bohemian who becomes obsessed with psychoanalysis, only to find its ramifica- 
tions incompatible with middle class mores. The protagonist of this one-act play. 
Henrietta Brewster, is convinced that psychoanaK sis is the key to personal fulfill- 
ment. Her sister Mabel, visiting from the Midwest, is less certain that suppressed 
desires are the root of everyone's unhappiness. "1 don't believe they have them 
in Chicago," she surmises." Henrietta's husband Stephen, \'cd up with her 
amateur attempts to interpret his dreams, finally capitulates to his wife's demands 
that he be psychoanalyzed, and even Mabel is persuaded to try analysis. When 
it develops that Stephen's dreams reveal a suppressed desire to be free of marriage, 
and that Mabel's indicate a suppressed desire for Stephen, Henrietta is revealed 
to be less the sophisticated disciple of Freud than the ordinary jealous wife. 



30 SUSAN GLASPELL 



Siippressccl Desires has hccn iVcqucnti) criticized as a superficial treatment 
(it an extremel) complicated suhject. and e\'en the Washington Square Players 
found the play "too special"" for their theater. ' Undaunted. Susan and Jig produc- 
ed their play privaiel\ during the summer o'i 1915 at the home o'i Neith Boyce 
and Hutchins Hapgtiod in Pro\ incetovvn. Massachusetts. Neith had also written 
a play. Coiisniiicv. spoofing the love affair of Mabel l)()dge Luhan and .John Reed. 
The stage for Neith's play was her broad verandah overlooking the sea: vshen it 
was over, the audience turned their chairs around and faced the Hapgoods' living 
room, where a young designer. Robert Edmond Jones, had created a set lor Siip- 
pressed Desires using the living room furniture. 

The people involved in these productions were the artists and writers wht) sum- 
mered in Provincetown each year: the Cooks, the Hapgoods. Lucy Huffaker. 
Mary Hcaton Vorse and Joe O'Brien. Wilbur and Margaret Steele. As more and 
more people became interested in the amateur theatricals. Mary Heaton Vorse was 
persuaded to offer the fish house on her wharf as a theater. Later that suminer. 
the Provincetown Players' first official bill included not only Suppressed Desires 
and Constaney but also Clnini^e Your Style. Jig Cook's new satire on warring Pro- 
vincetown schools of art. and Wilbur Daniel Steele's Coiiieniporuries. based on 
the experiences of anarchist Frank Tannenhaum. 

The year 1915 was an important one not ()nly for the American theater, but 
for American fiction and poetry as well: a shift in attitude toward America's heart- 
land was evident in several works published that year and in the years immediately 
following. In 1915. Edgar Lee Masters published his Spoon River Aniholoi^y. a 
collection of poetic dramatic monoU)gues spoken by the inhabitants of a rural Il- 
linois village, among them a housewife, a cynical newspaper editor, an alct)hoIic. 
a corrupt politician, a fallen soldier, and a fallen woman. Together the poems 
weave a tapestry of small minds, petty jealousies, warped values, and lost oppor- 
tunities. Because the characters describe life in Spoon River from the vantage 
point of the town cemetery, the poems suggest Masters's concern with the death- 
in-life and life-in-death paradox that is the central theme ()f T. S. Eliot's Wnste- 
Icmd. 

Masters's poems shocked those Americans whose vision o\' rural life was 
formed by the McGuffey Reader, the Turner thesis, and the paintings of George 
Caleb Bingham. Yet the myth of the country town as an id>llic ha\en for simple 
people t)f unassailable virtue had already been attacked in the late nineteenth cen- 
tury by E. W. Howe and Hamlin Garland, whose novels portraved midwestern 
communities as stifling, arid, and inimical to intellectual and moral growth. The\ 
began "'the revolt from the village," a literary phenomenon to which Sherwood 
Anderson, Carl Van Vechten, Willa Gather, Glenway Wescott, Edith Wharton, 
Zona Gale, and Sinclair Lewis would contribute during the earl\ decades of the 
twentieth century. 

Susan Glaspell cherished her Iowa heritage, yet, like Masters, Howe, and Gar- 
land, she perceived that the virtues o\' her pioneer ancestors had become atrophied: 
the strong had become tyrannical and the hard-working materialistic, their perse- 



PROVINCETOWN YFARS 



vcrancc hardening into rigidity and their traditions into conscntions. In her l')2I 
drama. Inhcriior.s. one ol'the eharaeters. Ira Morlt)n. is ileseriheti as '"the dwarled 
pioneer ehild."^ The son ol one ol Iowa's first settlers, he laeks the \ision. 
strength, and eourage of his father, Taeiturn and withdrawn, he li\es apart from 
the rest of the communitx. eimeentrating ail of his energies on the produeti(Mi o[ 
a perfect breed of corn . 

Susan Glaspeil's third novel. Fidcliiv. published the same vear as Masters"s 
Spoon River Anlholoi^w exposes the limitations of life in a midwestern town as 
experienced by Ruth Holland, a young woman from [-reeport. Iowa, who falls 
in k)\e with a married man. elopes with him to Colorado, anti returns alter ele\en 
years lo face the death of her father, the break-up o\' her lamil\ . and the contempt 
of the people she loves. Thus, in Fuldiiy Susan Glaspell joins "the revolt from 
the village"' by linking midwestern conventionality with the oppression of 
women. 

Fidelity is Susan GlaspelTs best no\el. No turgid passages mar its ti)ne; no 
contrivances of plot tax the reader's credulity. Glaspeil's idealism, overwhelming 
in The Glory of (he Conquered, is muted in this novel; the view that love is the 
ultimate good is balanced with the view that the social order must be preserved 
at all costs. Because Glaspell has created a conflict between two equally defensi- 
ble points of view. Ruth Holland's dilemma evokes genuine emotion; the reader 
keenly feels both her love for Stuart Williams and her longing to be a part of the 
largercommunity of family and friends. 

The novel is constructed so that no extraneous incidents or superlluous charac- 
ters intrude upon its design. It opens with a view of f-'reeport society before Ruth 
arrives which effectively builds suspense about her past and then Hashes back to 
the \ears o[' her girlhood before turning to Ruth's return to Freeport. which can 
then be examined in light ol' her past. The novel then moves to a brief view of 
Freeport after Ruth returns to Colorado and closes w ith a glimpse o\' her life there 
with Stuart, her realization that their love is dead, and her decision to leave Stuart 
and begin a new life, alone, in New York City. The emphasis in the novel falls 
upon the middle section, when, after providing the necessary background. Glas- 
pell brings together the nonconformist and the society that demands conformity 
as the price o\' acceptance. During the days that precede and follow her father's 
death, Ruth attempts to reach out to the people she loves-to her brother Ted. her 
sister Harriett, an old friend, a young neighbor, a spinster cousin. Glaspell paral- 
lels these efforts with similar attempts to seek acceptance for Ruth by Deane 
Franklin. Ruth's former beau, who stood by her during the trouble over Stuart. 
More often than not. their attempts at reconciliation are rebufled b\ those who 
believe that Ruth Holland has irrevocably outraged society. 

The omniscient point of view adopted by Glaspell enables her to depict the 
situation not only through Ruth's eyes, but from the perspectives of e\er\'one in- 
volved. The differing viewpoints form a spectrum of opinion ranging from the 
contention of Ruth and Deane that it is more important to love than to judge, to 
the conviction that social responsibility is primar\ . the \iew held by Stuart's es- 



32 SUSAN GLASPELL 



tranged wife Marion, Ruth's relatives and former friends, and Deane's wife Amy. 
Other characters are ambivalent: Ruth's sister, Harriett, longs to forgive Ruth yet 
dares not offend her minister husband; her brother Ted sympathizes with Ruth but 
realizes how much pain her elopement brought their parents; Ruth's girlhood 
friend, Edith Lawrence Blair, wants very much to see Ruth but is afraid her visit 
might be interpreted as condoning Ruth's actions. 

Ruth's struggle to be faithful to her love for Stuart and at the same time restore 
relations with her alienated family and friends is never completely resolved. After 
her father's death, only her younger brother Ted remains loyal to her; her older 
brother and sister will forgive her only if she renounces Stuart and comes back 
to live with them. The townspeople are similarly divided. Deane Franklin tries 
to convince Edith that her view of society is too parochial. '"What is it? A collec- 
tion of individuals for mutual benefit and self-protection, 1 gather. Protection 
against what? Their own warmest selves? The most real things in them?'"'^ The 
most adamant adherent of the opposing view is Edith's mother, who tells Deane. 
"Tf you can't see that society must close in against a woman like that then all 
I can say, my dear Deane. is that you don't see very straight. You jeer about soci- 
ety, but society is nothing more than life as we have arranged it. It is an institution. 
One living within it must keep the rules of that institution. One who defies it-de- 
ceives it-must be shutout from it. '"^ Even a sympathetic observer such as Ruth's 
old friend Cora Albright admits. "Tt isn't just one's self, or even just one's fam- 
ily-though it broke them pretty completely, you know; but a thing like that reaches 
out into so many places-hurts so many lives. '"^ 

Ironically, Ruth's staunchest defender is a person who has been reached and 
hurt by her elopement. Deane Franklin is blamed by Ruth's family and their 
friends for countenancing and abetting the elopement, and. when he encourages 
Ruth's old friends to visit her, the hostility he engenders is so great that it eventu- 
ally affects his medical practice and destroys his marrige to a socially prominent 
woman who resents his past involvement with an adulteress. Ruth and Stuart's 
love, to them an intensely private and special relationship, has nearly ruined her 
brother Cyrus's chances of marriage to one of Stuart's relatives, as well as Ruth's 
father's business and her mother's social life. Stuart, too, feels torn; his love for 
Ruth has forced him to relinquish wealth and social position, two things he greatly 
values, and Marion Williams's refusal to divorce Stuart has made her a cold, bitter 
person, enchained by her own rigidity . 

Fidelity is an especially strong novel because Glaspell is able to dramatize a 
moral issue without presenting it as a clear-cut struggle between good and evil, 
as she does in her early stories. After suffering the censure of Davenport citizens 
for her involvement with .lig Cook. Glaspell's sympathy for her protagonist is evi- 
dent, yet her personal experiences do not blind her to other points of view. 
Throughout the novel she emphasi/es the complexity of the situation, the ambiva- 
lent feelings it engenders, the ambiguities it brings to light. 

Unlike Susan Glaspell's first two novels. Fidelity was not well received. Some 
reviewers questioned the author's own probity, apparently unable to make the dis- 



PROVINCETOWN YEARS 33 



tinctiiin between writine about a fallen woman and being cMie. "One regrets the 
vanished charm ot this young writer's earhest work. Miss Glaspell's sympathies 
are too strictly limited to the underdog to allow her to give a justly proportioned 
picture ot human life." wrote the Atlantic reviewer/' The Dial called Fidelity "a 
very unwholesome story and . . . an ama/ingly dull one, made so by its intermina- 
ble passages of analysis and introspection. ""''The Masses was one ofthe few jour- 
nals to print a sympathetic review. 

Fidelity was the only novel published during Susan's marriage to Jig Cook, 
for a new kind of literary venture had diverted her attention. By the summer of 
1916. interest in the Provincetown Players was high, and Susan and Jig were urg- 
ing all their friends to write plays and become subscribers to the group. Left-wing 
journalist John Reed contributed The Eternal Quadrani^le and Freedom, and his 
wife Louise Bryant offered The Game, for which William and Marguerite Zorach 
designed unusual Egyptian sets. Wilbur Steele and Neith Boyce wrote new plays, 
and their successes ofthe past season, along with Suppressed Desires and Chani;e 
Your Style, were revived. Jig and Susan were reluctant to rely on past successes. 
however, and were always on the lookout for new plays. 

One day Susan asked Terry Carlin. an Irish vagabond who had just moved 
in up the street, if he had a play to contribute. ""No."' said Terry, '"I don't write. 
1 just think and sometimes talk. But Mr. O'Neill has got a whole trunk full of 
plays. '" '" Susan was not particularly impressed by this information: nevertheless, 
she sent word for Eugene O'Neill to bring some of his plays to their home at eight 
o'clock that night. O'Neill arrived on schedule but was too shy to read his play 
for the group. He sat alone at the dining room table while actor Frederick Burt 
read Bound East for Cardiff, a sea play that dramatized the reflections of a dying 
sailor. It was performed in the wharf theater that summer, with Jig Cook in the 
role of the dying Yank. 

Another big hit for the Provincetown Players that season was Susan Glaspell's 
one-act play. Trifles. As Susan, who had always considered herself a writer of 
fiction, recalled in later years. "I began writing plays because my husband forced 
me to."' ' Told to sit in the theater and write a play for the next bill. Susan stared 
at the stage. Soon she began to see a kitchen where O'Neill had envisioned the 
forecastle of a ship. Drawing on her experiences as an Iowa reporter covering a 
downstate murder trail. Susan Glaspell wrote her most famous play. 

Today Trifles is still a popular choice among little theater groups throughout 
America, has been translated into many foreign languages for overseas produc- 
tion, and is frequently cited in playwrighting texts as the classic example of a well- 
made one-act play. Trifles is an important play for these reasons and for its em- 
phasis on the difference between the way men and women experience reality. 
Written from a feminist point of view. Trifles demonstrates that the female mode 
oi perception has a validity of its own and serves as a bond to unite women in 
sisterhood when they are threatened by male oppression . 

Trifles is a murder mystery, the story of a farmer's wife who strangles her hus- 
band as he lies sleeping in their bed. This alone would be enough to grab and hold 



_U SUSAN GLASPF.LL 



the attention of any audienee. hut Cilaspell at her best ne\er settles tor eheap shots 
or sensational tricks. The murderer. Minnie Wright. ne\er appears onstage: the 
story ot the murder unfolds after the fact, during the ei)urse of two simultaneous 
in\estigations. The official investigation conducted hy county authorities at the 
scene of the crime proves Iruitless. hut then' \\i\es. sitting in the kitchen below, 
are able to puzzle out the tiuth. 

■"You're convinced that there vsas nothing important here-nothing that would 
point to an\ imnive."" the count) attornev asks the sheriff as he leaves the kitchen, 
and the sheriff replies. '"Nothing here hut kitchen things. ""'-^ The women tind 
Minnie Wright's dirtv towels, unbaked bread, and unfinished sewing to be evi- 
dence of more than slovenh ht)usekeepnig. Their own experiences as farm wives 
give them insight mto the situation: thev reproach themselves tor not visiting Min- 
nie and giving her support. Mrs. Hale says. ""1 might have known she needed help! 
I know how things can be-for women. 1 tell you. it's queer. Mrs. Peters. We live 
close together and we live tar apart. We all go through the same things-it's all 
just a different kind t)f the same thing." ' ' They reflect on what life with a frugal 
and taciturn farmer must have been like for Minnie, once a small town belle who 
sang in the church choir. Finding a mangled bird cage and the bird with its neck 
wrung in Minnie's sewing box. the> begin to realize what had happened. The men 
return, having failed in their investigation: the women have found almost conclu- 
sive evidence of murder, as well as of Minnie Wright's frustration and loneliness. 
Rejecting the county attorney's suggestion that she is ""married to the law." '"^ the 
sheriff's wife hides the evidence and the men leave, disappointed at not being able 
to discover a motive that would convince a jurv of Minnie's guilt. 

At first reading. Trifles seems \o he a simple play, engaging because it is sus- 
penseful and realistic. Upt)n reflection, the reader becomes aware that Trifles is 
not Just a play about murder: it is a pla\ about sisterhood and sexual politics, and 
about the effect of the midwestern environment upon those individuals who at- 
tempt to settle and tame the Iowa prairie. While Minnie's neighbi>rs get her be- 
longings ready to take to her in jail, they discuss her plight and conclude that the 
loneliness of her Iowa farm home contributed to her desperation and near mad- 
ness. "T know what stillness is. When we homesteaded in Dakota, and my flrst 
baby died-after he was two years old, and me with no other then." the sheriff's 
wife's remarks.'"" Her comment suggests that Minnie's act was not the act of an 
evil or cra/y woman, but the act of a woman abandoned to a grim life with an 
Iowa farmer who refused her a telephone or even a canary for company. The set- 
ting of the play, an austere Iowa farmhouse isolated on the prairie, functions as 
a metaphor lor the psychological isolation and alienation that Minnie Wright has 
experienced. 

Susan remembered the summer that Trifcs was produced as an idyllic inter- 
lude that separated the rather aimless summers o^ earlier years from the frantic 
period when the Provineetown Players fought for survival in New York. 'It was 
a great summer; we swam from the wharf as well as rehearsed there: we would 
lie on the beach and talk about plays everyone w riting, or acting, or producing. 



PROVL\CETOW\' YEARS 35 



Life was all of a jiiccc. v\(iik not separated from pla\ , and we did together what 
none of us ci)uld haxedmie alone." "' 

Susan and Lucy Huffakcr had begun summering in Provincetown, Mas- 
sachusetts, in 1^)12. along with the Hapgoods, who had arrived the summer be- 
fore, and Sinclair Lewis, then twenty-five years old and the authiir of Hike uiul 
ilw Acrophmc. a book for bo>s that he wrote in three weeks. At that lime he was 
working on his first no\el. Our Mr. Wrciin. vshich was ti) be published by the 
Frederick A. Stokes Company. It is said that Mary Heaton Vorse would lock him 
up e\er\ da\ until he produced the requisite number of pages, while Susan, also 
an author for Stokes, provided emotional and literary support. Her copy o\' Our 
Mr. Wrcnii. is inscribed. "To Susan Glaspell. but for whose encouragement and 
understanding this book would never have been finished, and to George Cram 
Cook-prince-from the author. " ' ' ^ 

After she married Jig Cook. Susan continued to spend her summers in Provin- 
cetown and her winters in Greenwich Village. During the summer of 1913 they 
rented a house in Provincetown while renovating an older one they had purchased; 
Jig kniKked out an enclosed staircase and built an open one out of the old lumber. 
The Cooks" remodelled home made good copy for journalists bent on regaling 
middle class readers with wild tales of bohemianism in Provincetown. One news- 
paper article, ostensibly a notice of Fidelity's publication, went on to say that 
Susan and Jig ""haxe a post- Impressionist room in their house. The tloors are pur- 
ple, the walls are \ellow\ the ceiling is rose, the woodwork is black and one of 
the doors of the room is painted blue and the other red. It may be a fine room 
to exercise one's fancy in. but for some of us it would be a little too stimulating."'*^ 
Another point of interest was the dining room table, which Jig had built out of 
North Carolina pine. Because the grain of the wood formed a musical staff. Jig 
carved a socialist hymn on the table top. They transformed the living room floor 
of the house they later purchased in Truro into a multi-colored checkerboard that 
Jig and Hutch Hapgood used for their chess games, with molasses pitcher, pickle 
dish, toothpick hi)lder, and cake plate as playing pieces. 

"We were supposed to be a sort of 'special group'-radical, wild," reflected 
Susan. '"Bohemians, we have even been called. But it seems to me we were a 
particularly simple people, who sought to arrange life for the thing we wanted to 
do. needing each other as protection against complexities, yet living as we did 
because of an instinct for the old, old things, to have a garden, and neighbors, 
to keep up the fire and let the cat in at night."''' That the cat's name was Carnal 
Copulation was more evidence of that animal's promiscuous inclinations than of 
Jig and Susan's. Their bohemianism was. for the most part, limited to the pages 
of their novels and plays, and Susan, whose fictional heroines invariably risked 
social disgrace for love, was less than sympathetic to the youthful romances of 
Jigs beautiful, headstrong daughter. Nilla. One evening. Susan, after initial mis- 
givings and much hesitation, permitted Nilla to attend a dance at nearby Highland 
Light sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution on the condition 
that she be home bv eleven o'clock. When Nilla returned at one in the mornins:. 



36 SUSAN GLASPELL 



she found two distraught bohcmians pacing the porch. 

The Cooks enjoyed a quiet, family-oriented social life: chess games, swims, 
picnics, walks, conversation, and dinners with other couples such as Agnes and 
Eugene O'Neill. John Reed and Louise Bryant, Mary Heaton Vorse and Joe 
O'Brien, Wilbur and Margaret Steele. "A particularly pleasant place for their 
group to gather was the home of Neith Boyce and Hutchins Hapgood, where cof- 
fee, food and conversation were always in full flavor," remembered Nilla.-" 
Neith was an excellent cook, and holiday celebrations were often held at the Hap- 
goods' home. Susan, whose culinary repertoire was limited to Spanish risotta and 
grape jelly, was often grateful for Neith ' s hospital ity . 

The Cooks' marriage, like the Hapgoods", was in some ways quite a tradi- 
tional one. Like many other married couples, they wanted children, but a miscar- 
riage in 1914 and a subsequent fibroid tumor put an end to their hopes. Though 
disappointed at not being able to bear children, Susan found joy in caring for Nilla 
and Harl. Jig's children from his marriage to Mollie Price. They came to Provin- 
cetown each summer and Susan enjoyed creating a family atmosphere for them. 

But the Cooks' marriage presented unusual difficulties, and it survived be- 
cause Susan and Jig were able to cope with these problems and compensate for 
each other's weaknesses. Jig babied Susan, who had a heart lesion, back trouble, 
and various other real and imaginary illnesses. She loved to write in an upstairs 
room with an ocean view. When she was warned by the doctor that climbing stairs 
would be bad for her heart. Jig built an elevator to lift her from the kitchen to her 
favorite upstairs room. He also served her breakfast in bed and tended to other 
domestic chores while Susan, a disciplined and skilled writer, adhered to a strict 
schedule, writing each morning for several hours, and was successful in selling 
her short stories to popular, well-paying magazines. 

Writing on a schedule was something that Jig could rarely do; he needed the 
stimulus of inspiration to get started, and when it did not come, he settled for the 
stimulus of wine or liquor. Jig drank while he wrote, drank when he could not 
write, drank when he was ill. happy, in love, or out of luck. Provincetowners like 
to talk of the time when Jig and Harry Kemp set out to steal Plymouth Rock and 
bestow it upon Provincetown Harbor, the authentic first landing place of the Pil- 
grims. Taking two Portuguese fishermen along, they set out with a boat and crane, 
but indulged in too many ritual libations along the way. Kemp and one of the 
fishermen passed out, followed shortly by Jig and the other Portuguese. The next 
nmrning found them drifting back into Provincetown Harbor with the tide, while 
Plymouth Rock remained unmenaced.-' Susan was tolerant and understanding of 
these episodes. "A woman who has never lived with a man who sometimes 
"drinks to excess" has missed one of the satisfactions that is like a gift-taking care 
of the man she loves when he has this sweetness as of a newborn soul," she later 
retlected.-- She was also tolerant t)f Jig's amorous adventures with Eunice Tiet- 
jens. Marjorie Jones. Hdna Millay, Ida Rauh. and other writers and actresses who 
were associated w ith the Provincetown Players. 

Hutchins Hapgood rcniciiibercd a Susan who was i)ccasionally possessive and 



PROVINCETOWN YEARS 



37 




Susan Glaspell and her husband George Cram Cook featured in a newspaper article about 
famous writing couples c.a. 1913. Courtesy of Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection, 
New York Public Library. 



38 SUSAN G LAS PELL 



jciiloLis. ""I icmciiihcr one nii:ht Jig and I were phiNini: |chcss| al (Uir house and 
Ncith had yoiic to bed. Jij: and I phi\ed on till the carl\ niornini: hours. Suddenly. 
Susan darted in. with blood in her e\e. and hauled oil the reealeitrant plaxer in 
the midst of the ganie."^' Hut Floyd Dell had another opinion. ""For Susan Glas- 
pell iin respeet and adnination grew inimenselx ; it is a dilTieult positii^n to be the 
wile ol' a man who is driven by a daemon, a position Irom whieh an\ mortal 
wt)man miyht. however great her love, shrink in dismav i)r turn awa> in weariness: 
but it was a position whieh she maintained w ith serene and radiant dignity. ""^"^ 

By the end of that idvliic summer ol' \^)\(). the F^rov ineetown Players had he- 
come more than an amateur theater group. Their two major talents. Susan (jiaspell 
and Eugene O'Neill, drew the attention of critics who came, unbidden, to see a 
kind of theater they had never seen before. The Broadwav stage teatured little seri- 
ous drama; people would pav only to see frothv musical revues, historical ro- 
mances, and melodramas. The Washington Square Plaveis countered w ith Ibsen 
and Strindberg. but until the Provincetown Plaveis came along, no one was wil- 
ling to give an opportumtv to the unproduced American pla\ wright who dared to 
bedifterent. 

Buoved up by the critical interest in the group. Jig Cook set out for New York 
with S320 in his pocket to find himself a theater. He rented a bri)vvnstone at 1.^^) 
MacDougal Street, next door to the Liberal Club, [or SIOO a month and set about 
remodeling it for the Pn)vineetown Players. Susan was reluctant to trv a New York 
season and feared that they were still too much the amateurs to succeed in the citv . 
But when she arrived in New York in the fall o\ \'^)\(i after a visit to Davenport, 
she had a one-act play ready forproductitin at the new theater. 

Jig had not only found a building for the theater, but a home for himself and 
Susan at I Milligan Place, in Greenw ich \illage. Susan had enjoyed the vear she 
spent in Paris living in the Latin Quarter and fountl the atmosphere of the Village 
similarlv exhilarating, ""i like in memorv the flavor t)f tln)se davs when ouc could 
turn down CJreenwich Avenue to the offices oi' the /U(/.s.s(',s. argue w ith Max or 
[^'k)yd or Jack Reed; then alter an encounter with some fanatic at the Liberal Club, 
or (better luck) tea with Henrietta Rodman, on to the Working Cnrls' hiimc (it's 
a saloon, not a charitable organization) or. if the check had come, to the Bre- 
voort." she later remembered.-'' But she found bohemiamsm in itself superficial 
if unmotivated by idealism or philosophical commitment, and the bohemianism 
of World War i v intage w as more often than not mere radical chic, embraced by 
uptown swells who flaunted their liberalism by hanging out with thieves and pros- 
titutes and gamboling, barely clad, as nymphs ami fauns at the Masses balls. It 
was in criticism of such misdirected rebelliousness that Bobhv Fdwards w rote: 

They draw nude w niiicn for the ,A/(/s sev 

Thick, fat. iitiiiainlv lassos 

How docs IJKil help 1 lie uoikmg e lasses'.'"'' 

Susan's comment on the limitations of radical journalism can be found in her 



PROVINCETOWN YEARS 39 



(Hic-act cdiiKxK . The People, yixcn hy the Provincctovvn Players in March of 
1^)17. Set in liic stalTuHini o\ The People, a radical publication hearing an undeni- 
able resemblance to the Mciy\e.\. the pla\ lexeals the foibles of The People and 
its stall b\ contrastiiiii their pett\ concerns v\ ilh the idealism of three of its readers. 

As the\ became more nnoKed with the New \'ork theater, the Pro\ incetown 
Plaxers no longer put on plays at the wharf during the summer, preferring to con- 
centrate the funds the\ could raise on the MacDougal Street project. Pro\ incetown 
summers then became leisureK periods for the rejuvenation of creative energies. 
Susan and Jig wi>uld olten v\ alk o\er the dunes to visit Agnes and Eugene O'Neill, 
who were li\ ing in an abandoned Coast Guard station, away from the main part 
o\ town. .Iig and Gene swahc and fought and pK)tted plays together; Susan and 
Gene also found each other stimulating company, much to the dismay of Agnes, 
who felt she suffered by comparison to this talented writer of plays, short stories, 
and no\els. 

.Another reason Susan liked to visit the O'Neills was that she was intrigued 
b\ the area beyond the dunes that Provineetown people called "the Outside." This 
region was the inspiration lor her one-act play of the same name and for one of 
the most successful symbols in her work. Susan saw in the struggle between the 
sand and woods the struggle o\ li\ing things against the forces of annihilatit)n. 
■"The Outside" suggests the ambiguity inherent in this struggle, for just as there 
is no clear line of demarcation between woods and sand in the struggle to domi- 
nate, the struggle between the forces of life and the forces of death is a battle that 
is ne\er w\)n. As in Trifles. Susan Glaspell uses region in this play as a metaphor 
to suggest the loneliness and alienation experienced by the play's main characters, 
Allie Mayo and Mrs. Patrick, who retreat to the Outside to isolate and protect 
themselxes from the pain of loss and rejection. 

In addition to The Outside, the 1917-1918 season featured two new Glaspell 
one-act plays: Close the Book, a comedy, and Wodkiii's Honor, a feminist attack 
on the double standard. Close the Book, like The People, pokes fun at the brand 
n\' radicalism that is little more than egotism in disguise. Wonum's Honor is a 
flawed play, too much aware of its own importance and plagued by a tone that 
shifts from incisive humor to preachiness. 

The 19 IS- 19 19 season began with the move from 139 MacDougal Street to 
an o\d stable tt)ur doors down the block. Here the Players were able to have a larger 
stage as well as a clubhouse on the second lloor o\ the building where the kind 
of communal spirit that Jig believed must be the foundation for authentic drama 
was engendered. As Jimmy Light recalled: 

W'c wore a real commune. Wc lived at the Provineetown. I don't mean 
we really did-wc all had our separate places-but the Provineetown was 
our spiritual home, our headquarters, our club. There was always 
something going on, and wc had opening night parties, real saturnalias 
in the classic sense, where we would burlesque and satiri/e what we'd 



40 SUSAN GLASPELL 



been doing in the theater. It was a way of wori<ing off steam; things 
got pretty tense, you know, backstage, and this was our outlet. One 
time Edna Millay and Ida Rauh were in different plays on the same bill, 
and several of us approached Edna on the q.t. and suggested that she 
burlesque Ida's character, then we did the same with Ida. I can still 
see Edna sitting at a table that night making up, putting on a heavy 
mouth to give herself a sexy look.-^ 

Another reason for the feeling of community among the Players was Jig's in- 
sistence that authors involve themselves as completely as possible in the produc- 
tion of their plays. Thus, Susan produced, directed, and acted in many of her own 
plays. "Susan Glaspell, the writer, was a marvelous actress," recalled William 
Zorach, who designed the sets for several of the early plays. "Acting played a 
minor part in her life, but she had that rare power and quality inherent in great 
actresses. She had only to be on the stage and the play and the audience came 
alive. "-*^ 

The French director, Jacques Copeau, found this to be true when, during a 
visit to New York in 1917, he attended a performance of The People at the Provin- 
cetown Playhouse. In a speech to the Washington Square Players on 20 April 
1 9 1 7, he referred to Susan GlaspeU's portrayal of the woman from Idaho: 

Recently I attended a performance of one of your little theatres and I 
observed on the stage a young woman of modest appearance, with a 
sensitive face, a tender and veiled voice. She was absolutely lacking 
in technique. She did not have the slightest notion of it. For example, 
she did not know how to walk on stage, nor how to enter or exit. She 
did not know either how to accompany her words with the gestures ap- 
propriate to the action of the dialogue, and she kept constantly her two 
arms a little feverishly against her body. And only at the end of her 
speech, she reached out her two arms simply, and she became suddenly 
silent, looking out straight ahead as if she was continuing to live her 
thoughts in the silence. Well, that gesture was admirable, and there 
was in that look a human emotion that brought tears to my eyes. I had 
a real woman before me, and the tears which she made me shed were 
not those involuntary tears brought on sometimes by the nervous ex- 
citement of the theater. They were real tears, natural tears, natural, 
human as she was. ^'' 

The 19 IS- 19 19 season included two plays by Susan Glaspell. a one-act com- 
edy. TIcklc.w Time, written in collaboration with Jig, and Susan's first full-length 
play. lU'inicc. Like Suppressed Desires. Tiekless Time is a spoof of bohemianism 
at its most absurd. Beruice involves a dramatic device that Glaspell used success- 
lully in Trifles, the building of the play around a character who never appears 
onstage. 

By the time that Hernice was produced, the Provincetown Players were al- 
ready recogiu/cd as historic innovators, and those who gathered with the actors 



PROVINCETOWN YEARS 41 



above the theater to enjoy Christine Ell's cherry cobbler and Boston brown bread 
included Isadora Duncan, Mary Pickford, Walt Disney, Irving Berlin, and George 
Gershwin. It is said that Charlie Chaplin once arrived, incognito, to audition for 
a walk-on role, explaining that he believed the Provincetown Players were the 
closest approximation to the Moscow Art Theater that America would ever know. 
The group was especially appreciative of the support of Otto Kahn, who not only 
rendered much-needed financial assistance but helped Jig upholster the seats in 
the theater. 

Despite support from outside the group, internal problems became more wor- 
risome as the amateur spirit waned. As early as 1916 the quarreling had become 
serious, as Louise Bryant reported in a letter to Jack Reed: 

There is a terrible struggle over the MacDougals. Jig came over and 
told me this morning .... Anyway it seems that Nord has always hated 
MacDougal ever since he first saw him and Teddy has a great contempt 
for him and Ida doesn't like him and they won't have him in the group 
but more than that they want to kick him out altogether. Jig was awfully 
worried and said that Nord was perfectly childish about it. When some 
one asked what MacDougal had done Teddy said sarcastically, "Oh, 
played in country towns in Scotland!" You .see Floyd gave his play 
"A Long Time Ago" to MacDougal unconditionally to produce and 
he insists on having a chance to do it his way not Ida's way or Teddy's 
way. Jig says that even Susan wants to put him out. She has loathed 
Floyd and everyone connected with him ever since he put her out of 
his play.'" 

When this kind of bickering grew worse. Jig and Susan decided to take a year 
off. For the 1919-1920 season, the Provincetown Players were governed by an 
executive committee headed by Ida Rauh and James Light. After a visit to Daven- 
port, Susan and Jig spent a quiet year writing in Provincetown. When they re- 
turned in the fall of 1920, Susan had two new plays ready for production. In- 
heritors and The Verge, and Jig had written The Spring . 

The trip back to Iowa evidently reawakened Susan and Jig's interest in the 
Midwest, for both The Spring and Inheritors are based on Iowa materials. The 
Spring is a mystical drama that combines psychic phenomena with Iowa Indian 
lore; the premise upon which Inheritors is based can be found in a comment made 
by another Iowa writer, Ruth Suckow: 

Whatever real value the culture and art of Iowa can have is founded 
upon this bedrock [the working farmers, the folk clement]. Other ele- 
ments may influence and vary it, but this is at the bottom of them all. 
Our varying nationalities meeting in this rich soil which has still some 
of the old pioneer virtue of sturdy frcshncss-perhaps the only virtue, 
genuine and clearly distinguishable from all others, which the native 
culture of this young countn,' has to offer. . . . What we call culture 



42 SUSAN CIASPF.LL 



in loua |is| held toijcdicr and stivuLithciicd l\\ the siiiiplKil> and sc\cr- 
il_\ iitilshai(,i-\\(>rkiiii: larmcr people. '' 

Inheriiors takes place in the Iowa o{ Susan GlaspeH's hiith. in a town on the 
Mississip|-)i Rixer \\hei"e New EnglaiKl settler and Huns:arian immigrant live side 
h\ side on the prairie that once was the hunting i:i\)und tor Black Hawk. The first 
act of the pla_\ takes place mi IS7M. on the [n)uith oI.IuIn . The conflict in this act 
concerns a piece of piopert\, a hdi owned h\ Silas MortcMi. ""I've seen my hus- 
band and Black Hawk cliinh that hill tc^yethcr."" recalls GiandnK)ther Morton, 
who came to low a in a prairie schooner and threw dishw ater on the Indians during 
the Black Hawk War. '" Developers want to hu\ his hill, hut Silas has other plans. 
Regretting that homesteading left little time for his education. Silas is determined 
to provide for the educatiim t)f future generations. "It makes something of men- 
learning. A house that's full of hooks makes a different kind of people,"" he tells 
Count 'Fejevary. a Hungarian refugee whose propertv adjttins his own. '' Silas be- 
lieves that eduction can give people a broader and more humanistic perspective 
on lite. To assuage his guilt about taking land awa\ trom tlie Indians. Silas plans 
to build a college on his hill as a gift to those who will come after him. Admiring 
his neighbor's sacrifice of his kuuls in Hungarv to fight for freedom there. Silas 
sees the founding of a college on his hill as a wav of emulating the Hungarian. 
"There will one day be a college in these cornfields hv the Mississippi because 
long ago a great dream was fought tor in Hungarv ." Silas pledges. '^ 

In the second act we see that part i)t Silas's dream has been tulfilled. .\ college 
does stand on the hill in 1920. and Silas's grandchildren and the children of other 
lowans are students there. F^ut the coming of a new generation has brought about 
changes in thinking. Silas's idealism has given way to the shrewd pragmatism o^ 
the boosters and the parochial views ol ilie super-patriots. "Oh. our pioneersi If 
they could onlv see us now and know what thev did." exclaims Senator Lewis, 
upon whom all ht)pes rest for state money for Morton College. '^ His exclamation 
is ironic in light of his efforts to persuade a trustee ol the college. Count Fejevary's 
son Felix, to lire Protessor Holden tor speaking out for conscientious objectors 
and prison relorm. All the nK)ney in the Midwest might not have persuaded Silas 
to sell his hill, but Felix Fejev ary is all too readv to barter the freedoms the college 
was founded \o preserve for state funds. An unexpected problem is the radicalism 
of his niece Madeline, granddaughter of Silas Morton and Count Fejevary. 
Madeline has become involv ed in the plight of three Hindu students who are trying 
to avoid deportation. They have been speaking out against British colonial policy 
in India, and Felix Fejevary is determined that the college will not become invol- 
ved in international politics. The fighting spirit of Count Fejevary and Silas Mor- 
ton has skipped a generatit)n; it is Madeline who attacks a jioliceman trving to 
break up the Hindus' denu)nstration and is hauled oft to |ail. 

'i'he third act takes place at the Morton farm, in the same r(H>m where Silas 
Morton revealed his dream to Ct)unt F^ejevary . and w here Madeline is now w aiting 
to go to town for her trial. She well knows that her uncle can obtain clemency 



PRO VINCETO W 'N YFA RS 



tor 1km- il slic promises to lake no tiirllier part in the Hindu contro\ers\ . and this 
is what her Aunt Isabel hegs her to ^\o. Prolessor Holden is brought ui \o dissuade 
her Iroiii saeiifienii: her tuiine tor a piinei|-»le; her tatlicr. ha Mt)rton. pleads with 
her to aeeept her unele's guidanee. Ira is a tarnier who shows no sign of his tather 
Silas's lunnanilarianisni; lie is eoneerned soIeK witli produeing a more perleet 
breed ot eorn tlian liis neighbors ean grow. ""What good has e\er eome to tliis 
house tlirough carm" about tlie world'.'"" he asks.'" It is his isolationist response, 
and the disclosure that tier mother died nursing a neighboring Swedish tamily 
through diphtheria, that spurs Madeline to defiance. She decides to stand trial and 
risk a length) jail sentence, to carry on the fighting spirit of her pioneer ancestors, 
to fight for the freedom i)l (>thers and in so doing preserve her own freedom. 

.'\ second Glaspell play produced in 192 1 . The Vcr<^t\ would seem at first read- 
ing to be extremcK different from Inheritors. The latter spans three generations 
and fort\ \ears: the action oi' The \'cr;^c takes place in three days. The heroine 
of fnhcrirors sacrifices her personal happiness in the cause oi' social reform: the 
heroine oi' The \'er<^e is concerned w ith little except herself. Hven the modes o\' 
production differ ra(.licall\ ; Inheritors was done realistically and The Veri^e ex- 
pressii)nisticall\ . ^'et this ct)mment in the New York Evenini^ Post's review o\' In- 
heritors could just as casiK ha\e been said oi'The Veri^e: " "Susan Glaspell is fasci- 
nated with the problem o\' the human pattern, the deadly retrogression which sets 
in w hen any species contents itselt with complacent reproduction of its kind. To 
her. Iife"s greatest ad\enturers are those who act to break away from the repetiti- 
ous design, who heed the individual impulse to create new forms, to vary, to mark 
new paths for revolutionary progress. . . .""^^ 

The Veri^e. like other Provincetown productions, is an experiment; moreover, 
it is an experiment about an experimenter. Like h-a Morton, Claire Archer's obses- 
sion in life is her experimentation with plant forms, with creating new mutaticws. 
new forms of life. We see her in the play surrounded by three men: her husband: 
her former lo\ er, who is an artist: and a good friend, a drifter. Claire cares nothing 
for triendsor lamily: she cares only tor the Breath of Lite, a new bloom into which 
she is trying to breed an exotic tragrance. and for the Edge Vine, a new form that 
unfortunately seems to be reverting to type. As the play progresses, Claire"s alie- 
nation trom everyone and everything intensifies until even her own mind becomes 
too constraining for her rebellious spirit. Claire strangles her former lover, who, 
like other characters in the pla\ . has attempted to bring her back into normal re- 
lationships with her loved ones. As the play ends, Claire sings "" Nearer My God 
to Thee." a frightening indication of the goal she has set for herself in her struggle 
to realize her individuality. 

When The Veri^e was produced in London in 1925, critics were quick to com- 
ment on its feminism. "Reason . . . finds something repellant and dubious about 
her fanatical feminism, her lack of restraint and repose," said the Liverpool Daily 
Post and Mereury.^^ But the reviewer for the lUnstrated London News thought 
differently: "What Charlotte Bronte did for the novel, Susan Glaspell is doing 
for the play. She is making it efteminate. i do not use the word in any derogatory 



44 SUSAN GLASPELL 



sense. In a word, she has broken away from the masculine tradition." This critic 
went on to note that Glaspeil had succeeded in inbuing her play with the feminine 
qualities of passion, instinct, rebellion, intuition, and spirituality. While women 
dramatists of the past had written in the masculine tradition, Glaspeil was not an 
imitator but an innovator. "This is Susan Glaspell's distinction. She has carried 
these feminine distinctions into the drama. "^"^ 

When asked about her connection with the feminist movement, Susan told a 
reporter for the New York Morning Telegraph, "Of course I am interested in all 
progressive movements, whether feminist, social or economic, but I can take no 
very active part other than through my writing. ' "^** The comment suggests detach- 
ment, or even a polite lack of interest in the specific concerns of the women's 
movement: suffrage, equal employment opportunities, and discriminatory state 
laws. Susan was not unaware of these issues, but she was more concerned with 
psychological oppression, with the way the societal limitations placed on women 
damage their psyches and prevent them from fully developing their human poten- 
tial. Nevertheless, she knew from personal experience that discrimination affects 
all women, even those considered to be "liberated." Her comment to a British 
reporter concerning her work habits echoes the central thesis of Virginia Woolf's 
A Room of One's Own: "The shack, in fact, is something that's for work, and 
work alone. That kind of thing is good, especially for women. If you're at the 
house, something always happens; a car honks, or someone says the dog is in the 
middle of the road, or the Clothesline has broken down. And a maid will feel she 
can interrupt a woman where she wouldn't dream of interrupting a man. ""*' 

Regionalism as well as feminism is an important theme in Susan Glaspell's 
1922 comedy "Chains of Dew." The protagonist is a wealthy, socially prominent 
midwestern businessman with a wife and two children. He is also a poet, but as- 
sumes this identity in only two places: the workshop in his home, and Greenwich 
Village, where his literary friends are concerned that his art is suffering because 
of his dissociated life. Seymour Standish does nothing to dispel this impression. 
"I'm going away from here now, away from this life I care about-back to that 
world I don't belong in. Back to bondage. . . .""^- 

The two worlds converge when Nora Powers, a birth control crusader from 
New York, visits the midwestern town where Seymour lives. Ostensibly she has 
come to organize a birth control group in the area, but her real mission is to save 
Seymour from the tedium of middle class respectability. She is joined there by 
Leon Whittaker, the editor of a liberal magazine and his Irish friend, James 
O'Brien, who want to see for themselves what Seymour's midwestern prison is 
like. 

The New Yorkers find the Midwest to be a very different world from that 
which Seymour has described. They find his friends amusing, his mother amiable 
and broad-minded, and his wife eager to bob her hair and become the first presi- 
dent of the Mississippi Valley Birth Control League. Clearly, life in the Midwest 
is not the tiresome ordeal that Seymour has described. 

Leon Whittaker cannot understand why Seymour believes his life to be oppres- 



PROVINCETOWN YEARS 45 



sive, but he is certain Seymour would be a better poet if he were free to live in 
New York. He appeals to Seymour's mother to set Seymour free; she replies that 
his feeling of bondage is the source of inspiration for his poems about freedom. 
"His soul must be soul to an alien," she tells Nora. "It's made that way. Here 
with us-longing for you, whom he cannot have. There with you-the pull of us, 
to whom he must return. Don't you see what a fix we put him in when we get 
together?""^ ^ 

Seymour does, indeed, seem to be terribly disconcerted by the collision of his 
two worlds. He fears Nora's birth control talk will upset his mother and that his 
Bluff City friends will bore the New Yorkers. These fears are groundless, but un- 
derneath them lies a fear that he may see himself as he really is-as someone who 
depends upon pretense for survival. Seymour actually likes his chains, but he has 
to pretend that he stoically endures the golf games and the business lunches in 
order to preserve the fictive world he has created in which to write his poetry. 

"Dolls! Dolls! Yes 1 say dolls. Nothing but dolls!" Seymour shouts at the 
three women who theaten to expose his game."^ His invective brings to mind 
another play that is concerned with the relation of man to woman, Henrich Ibsen's 
A Doll's House. The parallels between the two plays go beyond the coincidental 
fact that one character in each play is named Nora. Both Nora Helmer and Dottie 
Standish are treated as children by their husbands, who refuse to see that their 
wives are capable of assuming adult responsibilities. When Dottie tries to under- 
stand Seymour's poetry and make time for his writing by keeping his friends 
away, Seymour becomes angry. Her taking the initiative in these respects 
threatens his self-image as the head of the household who sacrifices his own de- 
sires to give his family the good life. Similarly, when Nora Helmer surreptitiously 
borrows money to take her husband to Italy for his health, he is astounded at her 
"immorality." Both men need frivolous society dolls in order to bolster their own 
egos. But while Nora insists on remaining the independent adult woman she's be- 
come and leaves her husband because he refuses to see her this way, Dottie decides 
to sacrifice the new interests she's found and return to her submissive role in order 
that Seymour may continue to see himself as the martyr-poet. The play ends with 
Seymour replacing Nora's birth control pictures with the Sistine Madonna as Dot- 
tie sobs for the person she had almost become . 

A theme that was of special interest to Susan Glaspell was the relation of the 
artist to the community. Can one participate fully in life and write about it, too? 
Or is perhaps the .separation between one's life and one's art a stimulus for creativ- 
ity? The artist who leads a double life, with business and family carefully relegated 
to one sphere and art to another, fascinated Su.san Glaspell. Did this arrangement 
make for better writing, or was this kind of writer something less for his refusal 
to integrate his life with his art? 

Apparently Susan Glaspell intended to leave this question unresolved by draw- 
ing the character of Seymour in such a way that it is not possible to determine 
whether or not he is a poet worthy of our respect. However, when the play opened 
in April of 1922, a common complaint was that Seymour came off as a caricature 



46 SUSAN GLASPELL 



rather than a bchc\ablc chaiactci . thus dcstiox ing an\ ambiguity that might have 
been suggested by the script. ""It is impossible to make the audience believe that 
such a benighted ass can possibls be important as a poet or anything else. . . ."" 
wrote Hey wood Broun in the New York World. ^'^ This review would ha\e con- 
firmed Susan's suspicions that Edward Reese was miscast in the part of Seymour. 
"1 know a Seymour equal to an impression of reserve and complexity would have 
helped the part a lot. one who could keep \i)u guessing as to whether there was 
something there." she wrote to Edna Kenton.""' But she made this comment with- 
out having seen the pla\ for herself. She and .lig had left the Provincetown Players 
before ""Chainsof Dew"" opened. In March of 1^)22 they sailed lorGreece. 



4 

Horizons Expand 



In the calls years of the seventeenth century. Susan CilaspelTs ancestors set 
sail [\n a land reputedly menaced by twt)-headed snakes, man-eating bears, lions 
that swam with the grace of dolphins, and savages who could make water burn 
and trees dance. But if the new world offered unusual challenges, it also offered 
the opportunity to shape an entirely new kind of social order from the inchoate 
wilderness. 

Perhaps some o\' their descendants found this society disappointingly tame, 
for the\ left the eastern seaboard 200 years later, traveling westward over the 
prairies, crossing a wide river that few before them had ever attempted. When 
the midwestern towns that they founded grew dull and repressive, their children 
reversed the process and wandered eastward, stopping briefly in Chicago until 
lively tales o\' free expression lured them to Greenwich Village. After World War 
1 they gravitated toward Paris, where living was cheap, liquor was legal, and writ- 
ers such as Joyce. Stein, and Pound were shocking the traditionalists with their 
experiments in poetry and fiction. 

This Journey was often tedious and futile, as Edmund Wilson suggests in his 
p\c\y Beppo ami Beth: 

When yoirrc in Galcsburg, Illinois you want to get to Chicago, then, 
when you get to Chicago, you want to make good in New York. Then 
when you do put it over in New York, what in God's name have you 
got .' The depressing companionship of a lot of other poor small-town- 
crs like yourself w ho don't know what the hell to do with themselves 
eitherl . . . You think it would be better in Paris, but then when you 
get to Paris. \ou find the same fizzed-out people and you decide that 
they're wxirse than the ones at home because they haven't got even their 
sniaii-tiiwn background to make fools of themselves against. ' 

But for Susan Glaspell the life o\' an expatriate was not the dreary business that 
some others found it to be. Other Americans flocked to the rue de POdeon to see 
and be seen in Sylvia Beach's bookshop: Susan Glaspell quietly found a new home 
in the mountain village of Delphi, Greece. 

Jig Cook had been taught from childhood that Greece was his spiritual home- 
land. His trip there in 1922 was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream; however, it 
was precipitated less by idealism than by disputes within the Provincetown Players 
that threatened to destroy the organization, in its eight-year history, the group had 
triumphed over building inspectors, bad acoustics, skeptical critics, cramped 
quarters, police harassment, and financial crises, only to discover that they were 



48 SUSAN GLASPELL 



their own worst enemy. Their problems were not immediately apparent when Jig 
and Susan returned from Provincetown in the fall of 1920. They were enthusiastic 
about producing Eugene O'NeiU's The Emperor Jones, and Jig went to New York 
that fail determined to find a black actor to play the part of Brutus Jones and to 
build an enormous white plaster dome for him to play against. 

The dome was built, effectively lighted, and Charles Gilpin's blackness 
against the brilliant blue background was as electrifying as Jig had imagined. But 
the importance of the dome was an indication of the direction the Provincetown 
Players had taken during its eight-year existence. In 1916 their most expensive 
set had cost $13; to build the dome. Jig spent almost all of the S530 in the Players' 
treasury. 

Jig Cook had founded a playwrights' theater, a community theater, an amateur 
theater in the true sense of the word. He envisioned a kind of drama that would 
spontaneously arise from those lovers of drama that he had gathered about him, 
a religious ecstasy similar to that experienced in the Dionysian revels which gave 
birth to drama in Greece. For Jig Cook the theater was a place of unity and har- 
mony where the playwright was also director, producer, and actor. 

But by 1920, production had become the focal point. New playwrights with 
wild ideas were not welcomed as warmly as before, for professionalism had re- 
placed the community spirit of former years. The Provincetown was becoming 
a showcase for the plays of O'Neill and a tryout stage for playwrights with Broad- 
way ambitions. 

The situation came to a head when Eugene O'Neill's The Emperor Jones 
opened in November of 1 920. The play was an enormous success, bringing in over 
1 ,000 new subscribers to the Provincetown Players and moving uptown to the 
Princess Theater after its scheduled run in the Village. By contrast. Jig Cook's 
new play The Spring, although only moderately successful during its run in Janu- 
ary of 1921, was moved uptown to the Princess the following fall, where only 
four tickets were sold for the third performance . 

The rift that developed in the organization during the 1 920- 1 92 1 season even- 
tually deepened into a conflict between two factions. The founding members of 
the group felt committed to preserve the old ideals of communal drama and experi- 
mental theater; the newer members wanted to concentrate on polished productions 
of plays with Broadway potential. "The secret of their success was that they gave 
no thought to success. The secret of their failure -or rather their fulfillment-was 
again their success," wrote Kenneth Macgowan in The Provincetown. "When 
The Emperor Jones brought Broadway to MacDt)ugal Street, the peculiar creative 
spirit of the Provincetown was over. "~ 

Since this conflict could not be resolved to the satisfaction of either group, 
the Provincetown Players decided to incorporate and suspend activities for one 
year. Jig and Susan left for Greece in March of 1922 after endorsing their proxies 
to Edna Kenton, one o{ the charter members, and arranging with manager M. 
Eleanor "Fit/ic" Mt/gcrald to handle their finances and forward their royalties 
to the Hank of Athens. 



HORIZONS EXPAND 49 



Once in Greece, Jig Cook found that "the Parthenon in full moonlight is the 
only thing left that can give that twenty-year-old sensation of falling hopelessly 
in love," but Athens was too French and modem for the Iowa boy raised on Plato 
and Plotinus/^ He chose, instead, to live in Delphi, Apollo's city, which the an- 
cients had believed to be the center of the universe. 

Delphi lies high on the slopes of Parnassos, cleft by deep gorges of grey rock, 
shaded by spruce trees, and edged with olive groves. "Form had its ultimate 
triumph here, and it is as if the light were grateful and does what light has never 
done before," Susan wrote to Edna Kenton."' The temple of Apollo, the gym- 
nasium and stadium, the theater and the grove once sacred to an earth goddess 
and later dedicated to Athena lay down the road from modem Delphi . There Susan 
and Jig first stayed at the Pythian Apollo Hotel and made friends with the waiter, 
Athanasius Tsachalos, who helped them get acquainted in Delphi. "Thanasie" 
later found them a place to live and left his job at the hotel to be their man-of-all- 
work. 

Although Susan wrote to her mother of eating rice and lamb in the temple at 
sunset and watching the moon come up, climbing the slopes of Pamassos to read 
beside the Castallian Spring, watching the women of Delphi spin white wool into 
thread while Jig studied modern Greek with the schoolteacher, these romantic let- 
ters did not tell the whole story of her first days in Delphi. Jig may have been 
writing poetry and studying Greek, but he was, much of the time, engaged in his 
favorite pastime, drinking and talking with the men of Delphi in Andreas Korlss's 
wineshop. Soon Jig was spending almost as much time there as he did at home, 
where Susan sat in her room crying, lonely and ill from a bladder infection, refus- 
ing to eat until Jig retumed. Adding to the difficulties of adjusting to a foreign 
culture were problems that Jig and Susan thought they had left behind. Edna Ken- 
ton wrote frequently, recounting the gossip and infighting among the Provin- 
cetown Players, hinting darkly that the more production-minded members of the 
group were plotting to take over the organization. Moreover, the royalties that Jig 
and Susan were to have received from Suppressed Desires and The Emperor Jones 
were slow in arriving; Jig and Susan were annoyed at Fitzie for this delay. 

In July, when Delphi grew hot, the villagers moved up the mountain with their 
flocks to camp at Kalania, and Thanasie was soon occupied with the neariy impos- 
sible task of finding a place for Jig and Susan to work that was both easily accessi- 
ble and quiet. There they spent a leisurely summer living in huts of spmce boughs 
and working in a nearby tent. Susan was becoming better adjusted to the ways 
of Delphi; a visit from her archaeologist friend Miss Eldridge and the arrival of 
a copy of Thus Spake Zarathiistra in time for her birthday that year made life in 
Kalania even more pleasant. "The theater has always made it hard for me to write 
and now I will have a better chance for my own writing," she confided to her 
mother. "" 

But sometimes the peace of the little village was threatened by those who lived 



50 SUSAN GIASPELL 



higher up the nioiintain. Bandits demanded tribute tVoni the friends of the wealthy 
Americans and shot Jig's friend Demetrius Klombiss to prove they meant busi- 
ness. After Jig made a Htter and helped cany his friend back to Delphi. Thanasie 
guided the frightened Cooks to Agorgiani , on the other side of the mountain, evad- 
ing the outlaws. 

September of 1922 found Susan and Jig in Salonika, Refugees were swarming 
into the city, driven out of Smyrna by the Turks, and Susan was soon invt)lved 
in relief work. 'Tt was really a heartbreaking experience." she wrote her nmther. 
•"They were crowded around the shed where we were working, many of them 
women with babies and little children, all holding up their slips, anxious {o be 
taken at once, for fear the things would run out. And they did soon begin to run 
out. and you can imagine how hard it was to be making up a bundle that called 
for blanket and socks, after the blanket and socks were gone. " ''' 

In October (^^ 1922. Susan's father died, and in November she returned \o 
Davenport to be with her mother, who was ill. While waiting for her ship to sail. 
Susan and Jig toured the Peloponessos. visiting Arcady. Sparta, Olympia. and 
Mycenae. After Susan sailed. Jig spent a lonely winter in Athens, auaiting her 
return and translating his play. The Athenian Women, into Greek. "You couldn't 
bring Harl and Nilla v\ith you. could you?" he wrote Susan as she was preparing 
to return to Greece.^ 

Susan was able lo grant a pail o\' this wish: when she sailed for Italy on the 
S.S. Provim etown in February, she ws accompanied by Jig's daughter. Nilla's 
appearance at this time again forced Susan into the role of stepmother, a ro\c that 
had taxed her capabilities several \ears earlier in Provincetown. Susan had loved 
caring for Jig's children, but now she found herself the reluctant duenna of a pre- 
cocit)us fourteen-year-old who wanted to wear a long evening gown, lipstick, and 
dangling earrings, and dance with the foreign dignitaries aboard ship. Later, in 
Greece, Susan would find Nilla arranging to meet her beaux in the mountains or 
on the beach. When she forbade these activities. Nilla pointed out that in Susan's 
novels, love excuses everything. "But \ou are not in love, and so there is no ex- 
cuse," was Susan's stern reply. ^ 

Jig met Nilla and Susan in Palermo. Italy, and they took a steamer to Corinth. 
Jig pointing out the sights to Nilla and Susan reading the Prolei^omena to the Study 
of Greek Relii^ion. When they arrived in Corinth. Jig and Susan found Theodora, 
a refugee of the Turkish persecutions, and offered her a job as housemaid w ith 
them in Delphi. 

Getting acrc^ss the Gulf ot (\)rinth was a problem to which Jig and Susan found 
different solutions. When Jig announced thai he would sail across v\ith his friend, 
the Captain o\ he Drunkards, Susan disco\ered that she had shi)pping to do in 
Palras and decided to proceed lo Delphi by train. This she did. and Jig. Nilla. and 
'l'het)dt)ra si)on followed suit, after an aborli\e vo\ age on the Gulf with the notori- 
ous Captain at I le helm. 

In June of hJ2.^ the Cooks were settled in Agorgiani. where Thanasie had 
taken them the previt)us September to elude the bandits. But when they went up 



HORIZONS EX PA ND 5 1 



to Kalania that summci . Susan. v\ hilc alone, cnicriaincd a Greek gentleman u lio. 
unbeknownst to hei. was AiLiNrokastntis. Kniy ot the Banthts. the perpetrator ot 
eight murders and sexeral kidnappings. He nonehalantK ealled on Susan, whool- 
t'ered liim a cigarette and a glass ol' wine, .lig was annoyed when he learned the 
identitN ot Susan's caller and became e\en more angry when he learned that 
Thanasie had been suppl\ing the bandits with the Cooks" cigarettes and wine all 
summer. But from ArgNrokasliilis's jioinl olxiew. the Cooks were enjoN'ing his 
hospitality w hile lhe\ lived on the mountain, so it was onl\ right that the\ recipro- 
cate occasionall\ .'' 

When she returned to Delphi that autumn. Susan began to feel more a part 
ot" the little communit> and came \o lo\e and understand the Greek people. She 
was tolerant of the scatterbrained maid Theodora who let the food burn while she 
was gossiping with the neighbors, and always remembered the children of their 
friends in Delphi with school supplies and chocolates when she returned from a 
trip to Athens. She and Jig helped with the harvesting of the wheat and watched 
Nilla tread the grapes that would one day be wine. When Halloween arrived Nilla 
gave an American-style Halloween party complete with jack-o'-lanterns and fancy 
hats. 

This was the year that .lig was enthusiastically planning a Cain and Abel play 
for Delphi, with the shepherds and farmers of the village improvising parts. But 
he was growing thin, absentminded, ill-tempered. One day, in a quarrel over some 
minor matter, he stood up. turned over the table and announced to Susan that the 
only woman who had ever understood him was Ida Rauh. After Nilla led Susan 
away. Jig wrote to Ida of what happened. "It seems to me that you, more than 
any other friend or lover (){ me. belie\ed in my prophetic gift, knowing that I 
knew-in Oashes-what must be." '" 

In her letters to her mother, Susan continued to reassure her that all was well 
on Parnassos. " "Nilla is really a very unusual girl and we have become the best 
of friends and I am very fond of her ... I often find myself talking to her as if 
she were much older. It is wonderful how she gets along with her Greek, she can 
now talk well and read it a little and write." ' ' In these letters Susan never revealed 
the strain of living in a foreign country with a poet and his unpredictable daughter. 
However, Hutchins Hapgood reported that he had received a letter from Susan 
that autumn, explaining that the situation had gotten too difficult for her in Delphi 
and asking if she could stay with them in Paris. Hutch replied that she was wel- 
come to come, but that he was certain she would soon change her mind. '" 

Before she could make this decision, circumstances intervened. Jig and Susan 
decided that Nilla should have a formal education, and in December Susan took 
her to Athens to enroll in the American College for Girls. When Susan returned. 
Jig was in poor health and worried about their dog. ToPuppy, which they had ac- 
quired in Agorgiani the previous spring. ToPuppy soon became hopelessly ill and 
had to be shot b\' Thanasie. The next day Jig stayed in bed with what Susan thought 
was a cold and the village doctor diagnosed as the grippe. When he began to devel- 
op some alarming symptoms. Susan telegraphed to Athens for an American doc- 



52 SUSAN GLASPELL 



tor. 

The doctor arrived too late to help Jig. According to the physician. Jig had 
contracted glanders, a disease of horses and dogs. This disease had also caused 
the death otToPuppy, who must have bitten or scratched Jig. Jig Cook was buried 
in January of 1924 in the old graveyard of Delphi, The people of Delphi washed 
his body in wine and buried him according to Greek tradition, in the nmka he wore 
as a symbol of his love for them. Later the government ordered the placement of 
one of the old stones from the temple of Apollo upon the grave of this man who 
had so loved the Greeks that he had come to live and die with them. 

Susan and Nilla returned to the United States in February of 1 924. After seeing 
that Nilla got safely back to her mother, Susan returned to Davenport, her grief 
tempered by the thought of writing a book that would keep Jig's memory alive. 
"I am going home to be with my mother a while," she wrote the Hapgoods. "She 
is feeble and both my brothers, at a sacrifice to their own affairs, have been much 
with her. It seems I am the one to do something for her now. and 1 grasp at all 
the reasons there are for going ahead. But I cannot live in that place-Davenport. 
I must be near these friends who understood Jig. ' ' ' ^ 

Susan conceived of the book as a tribute to Jig, as a way of '"making Jig 
realized by more people." But overwhelmed by grief and depression, she was un- 
able to make much progress during the spring of 1924. Hutch Hapgood described 
herduring this period: "... lonely and unhappy after the death of Jig, [she] drank 
in a different spirit from that of the old days, and, a worker all her life, still 
worked, to be sure, but more chaotically and with frequent interruptions. " '"^ 

Another source of worry to her was the Provincetown Players, now a very dif- 
ferent group than it was in the days when she was one of its leading playwrights. 
Eugene O'Neill, Robert Edmond Jones, and Kenneth Macgowan, known as the 
Triumvirate, were now the directors of the group, and Susan, spurred on by Edna 
Kenton, was determined that they cease to use the name "Provincetown Players. ' ' 

The issue of the name had come up during the two years that Jig and Susan 
were in Greece, where they received periodic bulletins from Edna Kenton on the 
matter. From Delphi Susan had written to Edna: 'Our own feeling remains what 
it was-that the Provincetown Players was a unique group, with a very definite 
reason for existing, and that a quite other thing should have a quite other name. ' ' ' "^ 
Now the Triumvirate proposed that they change the name of the company to The 
Experimental Theater and retain the name "Provincetown Playhouse" for the the- 
ater itself. O'Neill believed this was a way of showing respect for Jig's memory; 
Susan saw it as a subterfuge and said so in a letter to Fitzie. "There was a man 
named Jig Cook. He gave some eight years of his life to creating the FVovincetown 
Playhouse. If it had not been for him, there would not be that place in which you 
now put on your plays. He worked until he had worked himself out, and then he 
went away, and he died. You are profiting by what he did. and you have forgotten 
him""' 

The issue was finally resolved ni May of 1924. when a new theater company. 
The Experimental Theater, was formed. Edna Kenton was edged out of the new 



HORIZONS EXPAND 53 



group and Susan resigned in disgust, sending a scathing letter that concluded, 
"Fitzie, and all of you. for this letter is for all of you, from very deep down, I 
am through."'^ To smooth things over, O'Neill aiTanged for a bronze plaque hon- 
oring Jig Cook to be placed in the Provincetown Playhouse, and Susan, at his re- 
quest, wrote a eulogy of Jig for one of the new company's programs. 

Through all of these difficulties, Susan was occupied with two projects: put- 
ting together a collection of Jig's poems, Greek Coins, which was published in 
1925, and writing his biography. This last she found a difficult task, involving 
many false starts, not only because of ill health, depression, drinking, and exasp- 
eration over the trouble with the Provincetown Players, but because she had as- 
signed herself the task of writing not just a biography of Jig, but a book that would 
illuminate his soul. 

"I want to begin at the beginning," she told Edna Kenton, "the Iowa back- 
ground. Dad Cook and Ma-Mie. . .the boy at Iowa who dreamed of Greece-Har- 
vard and Heidelberg, university teacher, gardener; and always the creative artist 
with life itself; hence the Provincetown Players; then knowing it was time to go 
to Greece-the American in Delphi. The story of an extraordinary American ro- 
mance such as perhaps no other in the history of this country has achieved. And 
a weight, an influence impossible to calculate. Something much bigger than-well. 
I won't go into that, but I did it wrong the first time . " ' ^ 

In its final form The Road to the Temple shapes up much the way Susan out- 
lined above. She tells Jig's story in the first person, supplementing the narrative 
with much personal observation and with excerpts from Jig's stories, novels, 
poems, letters, diaries, even with ideas he had jotted down on scraps of paper or 
in margins of books. Her problem was to write a spiritual biography of a man who 
had dreamed much but achieved relatively little; the result might be compared to 
a description of one of the foothills of the Alps written by someone who had mista- 
ken it for Mont Blanc. 

Susan, in time, came to realize that her passionate involvement with her sub- 
ject had distorted her perspective. "I once tried writing about Greece. . .but 
perhaps was too emotional at that time-Jig just having died there, and seeing too 
much the blue of eternity and not enough of the color of well-cooked liver and 
gray lichens," she admitted to Edmund Wilson. ''^ Yet Susan was to make further 
use of the Greek material she had collected in notebooks and committed to mem- 
or>'. In January of 1923, the New Republic published her sketch, "Dwellers on 
Parnassos"; her short story, "The Faithless Shepherd," appeared in the Cornhill 
Magazine in 1926; and Susan gave Fugitive's Return, a novel published in 1929, 
a Greek setting. 

In 1924 Susan Glaspell met and fell in love with Norman Matson, a young 
writer staying in Provincetown with Mary Heaton Vorse. Norman shared Susan's 
interest in literature, gardening, and animals. They planted bulbs together at 
Susan's Truro home, Norman adding silver poplars, willows, and Norway 
maples. They acquired a cat, Gamelost, and two wire-haired terriers, Samuel But- 



54 SUSAN GLASPELL 



ler and Tucker. For their first Christmas together Norman gave Susan a tiny diary, 
filled with reminiscences of then- courtship. "\ thought-I can see because I love 
Susan," read one entry."" 

The years with Norman were productive ones for Susan, who published an 
edition of Jig's poems as well as his biography, three novels, several shi)rt stories, 
and two plays. During this time Norman published three novels: Flecker' s Mai^lc 
(1926). Day oj Fortiiiw (1927), and Doctor Foi;i^ (1929). Together Susan and 
Norman collaborated on The Comic Artist, a pla\ in three acts that was produced 
on Broadway in 1933. 

Susan's relationship with Norman followed the pattern she had established in 
her marrige to Jig Cook; she. the more successful and probably the more talented 
of the two. tried to play down her t)wn abilities and promote her mate's literary 
efforts. In 1928 she wrote to her literary acquaintances, including Sherwood An- 
derson and Theodore Dreiser, asking them to read Norman's latest novel. Day 
of Fortune. Despite her efforts to advance his career. Norman remained relatively 
obscure while Susan's reputation nourished, ultimately straining the relationship 
beyond repair. Several months after she won the Pulitzer Prize. Susan and Norman 
ended their relationship: that ultimate triumph may have cost her the man she 
loved and prompted Norman to become involved with the younger, less threaten- 
ing woman he may have needed to feel secure in his masculinity. 

Some of Susan's Provincetown friends viewed Norman as an upstart, and she 
was criticized for living with him while she was writing Tlte Road to the Temple. 
Hutchins Hapgood believed that the book was ""greatly changed in spirit by the 
advent of Norman Matson." ""With great vividness I remember the mt)ment when 
Susan met Matson." he recalled. '"I knew from her eager expression that some- 
thing had happened, that by instinct Susan felt that here was a thread leading her 
back to life, a plank that would save her from the depths.""' But Eben Given re- 
membered that ""Susan and Norman made a great team. They were witty and an 
coiirant. able to talk about any subject in the world.""" Norman's analysis of the 
problem was concise. '"The trouble with the Provincetown people and me is sim- 
ply this: they are all respectable. I'm not.""^ 

During the summer and fall of 1925 Susan and Norman toured Eurt)pe. Susan 
believed that a visit to Norway would be inspiring to Norman, who was of Norwe- 
gian extraction; afterward they traveled in France, where Susan wrote her mother. 
"I haven't done as much work as I hoped I would since I left Norway. Now I 
am going to the south of France where the Steeles and other people I know are." 
She mentioned an unexpected check from Stokes she had Just received, comment- 
ing that '"it will make a Christmas present for you all, including Ray and Flossie. 
Soon I think I can do more, and next \ ear we will all be together.""'^ 

During her years with Norman. Susan made annual visits back to Davenport. 
Her mother was serit)usly ill. and Susan's brother Frank and his wife Ha/el had 
reluctantly assumed the burden of nursing her. "Things here are worse than I had 
known." she wrote in October o\' 1926. '"1 am doing what I can to make them 
a little better. Ha/el had to go awav the dav belt)re I arrived, her mother is sick. 



HORIZONS EXPAND 



so iiu)tlicr and Frank and I arc alone. Frank does not want to sta\ here this w inter, 
and teels I must sia\ and "keep the home" for mother. I lell him I cannot, but to 
m\ reasons, he answers hediel not want \o stay either and stayetl tor years. ■■'"' 

Susan was tired, ill. and terribly worried about how the publication o'( The 
Roiul to the Temple would alTect Daxenport friends and relatives, especially her 
mother. "She's so afraid and nei\x)us I hate to have her read the things I say about 
m\self. It will reall\ be \er\ hard on her. All the lamily will blame me for having 
done it. Davenport will bu//. I lanc\ . I am glad 1 will be away then.'""'' Later, 
Susan wrote Norman, asking him to send a copy of the book to Mr. and Mrs. Wil- 
liam Jordan Rapp in New York. "Pray for me."" she asked Norman, for Mrs. Rapp 
was .lig"s second wife Mollie. "1 am sending the book I received from you today 
on to the Cooks in Davenport. Again, pray for me-melancholia, and drinking and 
irregular love affairs, they may make a fuss. As I read it. I don't know how I had 
the nerve to do it. without their seeing. ""^'^ 

Back in Provincetown. Norman was working on his second novel, Da\ of For- 
tune, re\ ising Tlw Coiuie Artist, and trying to find a producer for it. His letters 
to Susan in Da\ enport frequently consisted of comments on Provincetown parties: 
"'Bla." said Fben. Frank grunted. "Bla," said Mrs. Kaeselau, delighted. 
'Galumph.' said Charlie in his Swedish manner. 'Blah," said Brownie. And pretty 
soon it was m\ turn, so 1 said, 'Bla,' too."""^ 

Susan went to Chicago just before Thanksgiving to try a new doctor and den- 
tist, writing Norman of what she was reading. "I admire Virginia Woolf so much 
that I wonder why I don"t like her more,"" she wrote to Norman. "She makes the 
inner things real, she does illumine, and she makes relationships realities as well 
as people. But I remember the intensity, the thrill with which I read Passcii>e to 
India. How I would have hated anyone who t(H)k the book away from me. In Mrs. 
Dalloway. you can about as well read in one pail of the book as in another. If 
one could have what she has. or something of it. and have also story, that simple 
downright human interest."""'' 

Susan GlaspelFs fourth novel. Brook Evans, shows the influence of her 
piaywrighting experience. It is what Percy Lubbock would call a scenic novel, 
reminiscent of a play in three acts. Brook Evans shows how three generations of 
a family deal with the conflicting demands of society and self, with each section 
of the novel focusing on a person of divided mind who must choose the principle 
that will guide her life. 

During the summer of 1928, an article in a Davenport newspaper announcing 
the publication o\' Brook Evans stated that "Miss Glaspell is now married to Nor- 
man Matson, himself a novelist and playwright. She and her husband are moving 
to a secluded old farmhouse at Truro, on Cape Cod, where they will be removed 
from the demands of Prophetstown [sic], which has grown too popular.""^" Alice 
GlaspelFs health was deteriorating, and since free-thinking daughter and church- 
going mother did not agree on many topics, Susan, wishing to spare her mother 
additional pain, had let it be known about Davenport that she and Norman were 
married. Despite Susan's efforts to eliminate this kind of conflict, her mother 



SUSAN GLASPELL 



a^ 



V 




.S';(V(/// CUispcIl c.ii. I'-)M). Courlcsx ofHenix W. and Albert A . Berg Colleetion, New York 
I'lihlicLihrarx. 



HORIZONS EXPAND 



57 




58 SUSAN GLASPFLL 



louiul Susan's caiult)!- in her I'lcuon diliiciill to accept: thai her daughter was a per- 
son who would share her most intimate thoughts w ilh thousands o\ readers was 
somcthint: that continuall\' troubled her. 

Earlier in the summer Alice Glaspell had \\ ritten Susan a letter that was critical 
o\' Brook Ak/z/s. and then tried to smooth things o\er in the next letter. '•Susie, 
dear, when I thot |sicl i had hurt nou alter all \our hard wovk. 1 was hurt mysell' 
but 1 did not realize the stor\ and alter I read the dilTerent re\ lews 1 thot dilTerentlN . 
I am ()ld and mv thots are slow and weak but I think you will understand. I am 
so thanklul the book is so well-recei\ed. and I think the reviews Irom London 
are \erv remarkable, from so lar."" '' 

Susan returned to Davenport late m l^)2S. •■|f Norman will be home try and 
have him come with \ou. Fell him I want to know my new son." her mother wrote 
Susan in anticipation o\' this \ isit. '" but Susan, anxious that her mother iK)t learn 
the truth about her relationship with Norman. alwa\s came back to Davenport 
alone and instructed Norman to address her letters there to "" Susan Matson."" 

The 192.S visit was especially trying because Susan's mother was growing 
.senile and continually mistook her daughter tor the nurse. Alice Glaspell con- 
stantly complained that she had a neglectful daughter named Susie who ne\er 
came to see her or wrote her a letter. Susan's sister-in-law wanted her to write 
her mother a letter and read it to her, but Susan lelused. feeling that it would de- 
stroy any possibility of her mother ever recognizing her. 

In Provincetown. Norman was working on a no\el and making the rounds of 
Provineetown parties. "Everybody gets drunk: glasses are smashed: a lamp or a 
vase knocked over; Hertha does a solo dance: Eben starts to wrestle with some- 
body: Some woman begins to cry: discordant singing: Frank, plied w ith specially 
strong drinks, coughs until \ou"d think his head would fall o\'\'. he gets up and 
falls down. Ever>bod\ is silent \ov a moment, then it all goes on. It's a psuedo- 
orgy. 

In Davenport, Susan was alone, burdened with the care of an imalid and a 
large house, smoking too much and v\riting infiequentl\ . Somehow another nt)\el 
got written, one that explores an itiea that had been growing in her mind for some 
time. A notebook entr}' reads, "The man (or men) who make the women personify 
custom holding them \'\om their fullest scKes. She lets them think so."*"^ In 
"Chains of Dew" this is exactly what happens: Dottie Standish lets Se\ niour be- 
lieve she is a shallow, silly womn because his ciio demands that he feel he is her 
superior. But what if the woman refuses to let the man think her a ninny? What 
if she rebels? What would happen then.' Susan answers these questions in her sixth 
no\c\. Ambrose Holt and Fcinjily, published in l^).M . 

All t)ftheelenientsof "Chainsof Dew" are present in this novel; the midwest- 
ern businessman-poet, his New \oA triends. his w ife and children, his quiet, \o- 
lerant mother. But the focus is not the poet himself, as in "Chains of Dew"; it 
is Harriett "Blosst)m" Holt's mind thi\)ugh which the s\o\\ is rendered. This shift 
in point-of-view indicates that a corres|-)ondmg shift in emphasis has occurred; the 
events of the plot are im|-)ortanl not si) much for what the\ reveal about the poet 



HORIZONS EXPAND 59 



as tor the way thc\' contrihutc to the dc\ck>pmcnt of the poet's u ile. as she be- 
comes a stioiiii, selt-sutTicient woman. 

Ahee Glaspell died in February oi' 1929. but Susan did not return to Davenport 
tor the funeral. ""We think that you did right by not eominii when you were not 
able to travel."" wrote her brother Frank. ''' A new project, inspired b\ her reading 
ot" Genevieve Taggart"s biography ol Hmily Dickinson, was tbrming in Susan's 
mind. Thiuigh her health was poor, she was tremendously enthusiastic about it. 
■■ . . . I remember w hen the idea o\' Alison's House, a story based on Emily Dickin- 
son"s lite, first possessed her. Seeing Susan in those days when she was first 
plunging her mind into Hmily Dickinson's story was seeing a creative force at 
work." remembered Mary Heaton Vorse. ^" 

Despite her feeling for the subject, the writing o\' Alison's House proved diffi- 
cult. The Dickinson family refused to allow Susan to use the family name or any 
of Emily DickinsiMi's poems in the play. Susan refused to give up her project; she 
merely changed the setting from Amherst to Iowa and created Alison Stanhope, 
a Dickinson-like spinster poet who was rumored to have once loved a married 
man. Although Eva LeGallienne was to produce and direct the play at the Civic 
Repertory Theater. Susan was still anxious about it. "'Alison's House opens De- 
cember first," she wrote NcMUian. ""Don't believe it will get over fear it won't 
be well played." '^ 

After Alison' s House got under way. Susan and Norman traveled for a short 
while in the Southwest and in Mexico, then returned to Provincetown to resume 
writing. In the spring of 193 1 . Susan went to get the mail and found an envelope 
trom Columbia University. Thinking it was a request from a student group to pro- 
duce one of her plays without paying a royalty, she set it aside, but an hour later, 
she decided that it must be dealt with and opened it reluctantly. Inside the envelope 
was a letter announcing that the Pulitzer committee had chosen Alison's House 
as "'the American play, produced in New York, which shall best represent the 
educational value and power of the stage." 

Susan was thrilled with the Pulitzer award, the highest honor she had ever re- 
ceived. ^*^ After celebrating her success with friends at a Provincetown restaurant, 
she went to New York to be interviewed and photographed with Eva LeGallienne. 
A quick decision had been made to move the play uptown for a limited engage- 
ment at the Ritz Theater. 

The New York critics were as surprised as Susan when they learned of her 
honor. Ward Morehouse quoted a New Yorker who, when asked if he had seen 
this year's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, replied, "My God. I haven't been south 
of 14th Street in twenty years!"^'' Few people had seen the play in the Village, 
and its first uptown performance would, in effect, be an opening night. 

Charles Towne confessed himself ". . .delighted with this year's winner in 
the realm of the theatre; for when we first saw Alison's House, we were deeply 
moved. . . ."""' Brooks Atkinson said that ""if the 1931 drama prize were for Miss 
Glaspell personally, everyone would purr with satisfaction. For nearly a quarter 
of a ccnturv she has been a force for the siood in the literature of this country.""^' 



60 SUSAN GLASPELL 



He believed, however, that no New York play was of PuHtzer quality that year, 
and that there should have been no award for drama given . 

It is difficult to quarrel with the objections that critics made to the play: it is 
insufficiently dramatic, with undistinguished dialogue and a sentimentalized treat- 
ment of the subject. The play brings to mind an entry in one of Edmund Wilson's 
notebooks about Susan Glaspell: "Dramatist friend who had formula: three 
points-condition at the beginning of the play 'which grows'-obstacle at end of 
second act, which is removed by surprise-ditto at end of third act.-'"*- This for- 
mula is readily apparent in Alison's House\ in the first act the condition which 
grows is the mystery about Alison Stanhope's private life. The play takes place 
on New Year's Eve, 1899; a reporter has come down from Chicago to interview 
the Stanhopes, who are breaking up the family estate on the Mississippi River 
where Alison lived as a recluse for most of her life. Alison's nephew, Ted, who 
is writing a paper about his famous aunt for college, hints at the mystery. "Was 
Alison a virgin?" he asks, touching off a heated family discussion."*'* The first 
act ends with a mysterious fire in the house, which the family later learns had been 
set by Aunt Agatha, Alison's sister. 

Agatha stands between the image of Alison as a virgin-poet and the discovery 
of her true personality; she is the obstacle who is removed at the end of the -iecond 
act by surprise. She dies, after giving a small portfolio to her niece Elsa, who had 
disgraced the family years earlier by eloping with a married man, but has returned 
to the family home on the last day of the nineteenth century for sentimental 
reasons. 

Act three takes place in Alison's room, undisturbed by the passage of time. 
The family discovers that the portfolio Agatha has been guarding for so many 
years contains Alison's poems, poems that no one ever knew she had written. 
They tell the story of her love affair with a Harvard professor and of her decision 
to break off the relationship and live quietly at home with her brother and sister. 
Alison's niece and nephews argue that the poems should be made known, that 
Alison is a public figure and the public has the right to know everything about 
her. But Alison's brother wants to burn them, fearing disgrace for the family and 
for Alison. His opposition is neutralized by a reconciliation with his daughter Elsa 
as the first strokes of the twentieth century are heard. "It isn't-what you said. 
Or even what Ann said. But her. It goes. It is going. It is gone. She loved to make 
her little gifts. If she can make one more, from her century to yours, then she isn't 
gone.'"*^ 

Unlike Trifles or The Verge, Alison's House does not excite its audience with 
bold new ideas or a suspcnseful plot. It is a melange of themes, devices, and char- 
acters that Susan Glaspell has used time and time again. There is the unseen 
woman around whom the play is built, and the exile who has disgraced the family 
and returns for a reconciliation. Once again, Glaspell explores the relation of the 
past to the present, the conflict between individualism and conformity, and the 
question of the artist's responsibility to the world in which she lives. And, as al- 
ways, love is the play's primary concern. A reviewer from the Boston Evening 



HORIZONS EXPAND 61 



Globe tound the charm oi' the play to lie in the techniques that Glaspcll uses to 
develop the character of Alison. "That method, brietly put. is the assemblage and 
coordination, in speech after speech, episode after episode, character upon charac- 
ter, background and foreground, of lines and colors that shall finally coalesce into 
a vivid, veracious portrait of the all-pervading Alison. In the reflections of that 
image the reactions of the other personages to her memory shall finally become 
clear. "^' 

Only if the play is seen to be built around the idea of Alison by using the visible 
to reveal the invisible can Susan GlaspelTs achievement be fully appreciated. The 
breaking up of the family estate necessitates sorting through old newspapers, 
books, and papers that evoke the ambience of Alison's past. The conversation 
about Alison precipitated by this project and by the questions asked by Ted and 
the reporter builds to an emotional peak that almost requires Alison's presence; 
when Elsa walks in, it is almost as though Ali.son had returned. The episode with 
the Hodges, who want to buy the estate and remodel it so they they can take in 
boarders, suggests a contrast with the genteel serenity with which Alison's pres- 
ence suffused the house. 

The characters, too. function to bring out Alison's personality. Elsa's strong 
and deep love for the man she is living with suggests a younger Alison with the 
same feelings, while her father's sense of duty and control illustrates that aspect 
of Alison's personality. Eben's thwarted writing talent makes Alison's achieve- 
ment in the same environment seem the work of genius; Aunt Agatha is a picture 
of what Alison might have become had that genius not been hers. Ann. falling 
in love with the Chicago reporter, walks with him where Alison walked; at the 
stroke of midnight she reads Alison's poem. "'The House." to Mr. Stanhope. Ali- 
son's House may not be Susan Glaspell's best play, but it is certainly typical of 
her writing in both theme and technique. 

In the winter of 1 93 1 . Susan and Norman traveled to England, where they set- 
tled near King's Cross in the home of writer Richard Hughes who was then abroad. 
Both planned to work on new novels there. Susan, whose plays and books had 
always been well received in England, was entertained by the wife of her British 
publisher, Victor Gollancz, and asked to perform in a January production of 
Trifles at the Duchess Theater. She deferred to the British Home Office's ban on 
foreign artists, even though special permission was later granted for her to per- 
form; she later explained that it had never occurred to her that she might be taking 
work from an English actress. In an interview with Louise Morgan o\' Everyman 
she described her feelings for the country from which her ancestors came: 

It Hnglund and America could rather more candidly be the friends which 
I think at heart they are it might go a long way in easing some of the present 
world complications. That we are friends-well, how could it very well be 
otherwise, with so much in common.' Language is in itself a big thing to 
share, and on our side, almost as soon as we go to school we begin getting 
acquainted with our linglish background, less through the history, 1 should 



62 SUSAN GLASPF.LL 



sa\. Iluin llmupjh llic lilcr.iluiv. Aiul lluuiiih ihc picscnl America is ccr- 
laiiiK amiNtiireol races, thcopinmn-inakiivj clcnicnl is Aivjlo-Saxon. '" 

Susan also discussed the diricrcncc between American and Hnglish w liters: 

I think HiiLilish uritcrs arc better educated ^oiir hest work is better 
than otirs. "loiir best uritcrs ha\e an case that diirs haven't. We are 
more erratic and uncertain, ue arc crude sonietinies. but sonictiines 
surpnsinyl\ >iood. I'lie le\el ot \our v\ritinL; is higher, and \et I think 
that ours has soniethini: that i;i\cs a httle more chance nt the suiprise. 
the unexpected ihini; that can come upon one. the thing comins: out o'[ 
ni>\\herc that ma> build Lip a new hterature. We are chaotic, a queer 
mixture olgooti and bad. but it's the rcsuh ol the recklessness and care- 
lessness that is natural m a new rich countr\ .^ 

In the spring ot 19.^2. Susan and Norman left England to visit Paris. There 
they met Susan's old friend Anna Strunsky Walling, w ho had written for the Mas- 
ses in the days when Susan and Jig were living in Greenwich Village. With her 
was her nineteen-year-old daughter Anna. When Susan became ill with a uterine 
infection, she and Mrs. Walling left Paris to sail for the United States. Norman 
and Anna remained behind. 

Susan returned to Provincetown in early May to find that her wirehaired ter- 
rier, Samuel Butler, had escaped from the people w ho were keeping him and had 
been gone for three weeks. Susan, distraught, wrote a nearly incoherent letter \o 
Norman that concluded. ""1 want Sanil"^^ When Sam was fi)und. dead, on the 
beach with one side torn out. Susan wrote to Norman. "I think there is a pattern 
in life, and that Sam in m\ loneliness and need w as sent home to me. and CL>uldn"t 
quite make it. Now laugh, with sour Anna and \(>ur hopes. ha\e a good laugh, 
but I believe it. And he couldn't quite reach me. And nothing again, can quite 
reach me.'""^'' 

Norman replied with a letter expressing his sympathy and. later. an(.)ther letter 
that told Susan something she had been fearing throughout her ordeal o\er Sam. 
Susan answered: 

I dro\e around bv Philipps .Street, hoping there might be a letter 
Irom you. so needing a word o\ lo\e. Iherc was a letter. It has struck 
me down. 

■^'oii tokl me when we talked that this was |ust one ot those casual 
atfairs. that it happened so. meant little 1 seemed to learn the truth \ery 
slowly. But it is better to know . It is hard to write. M\ hand shakes. 
My heart pounds. lUit 1 must tr\ to write a little. 

With her you are making uuir plans lor the tiitine. You sa\ \ou 
can see her only once or tw ice a month lor the two \ears she is in C(>1- 
Icge. And sour lite will be a planning and a longing lor those times, 
and you know it aiul I knov\ it. Aiul what, in that do \ou think \ou 
ha\e tOL)fterme, Norman.' 



HORIZONS EXPAND 63 



Not \o\i:. \'ov \(>u ha\cn"t hail lliat lor nic since you came home 
from I'aris. Not e\eii tenderness, eoneeiii. dkl \ou ha\e when I was 
so hurl. ()nl\ irritation, harshness. Ni)l companionship in the old way 
lor \ou were thmkini: onl\ ol this excitement, olyoursell. and through 
It all was that lakeness which puts a hliiiiit on all there was since you 
came home. 

\\m\ sa\ that It will yo on. e\en thoutih it may shipwreck her! You 
need ha\e small tears. I think, ol that. 1\) me you sa\ onl\ that it need 
make nodillerence. I think \ou are not that shallcnv. It the lime shi)uld 
ci>me when \o\.\ are i>n the other side of the situation and she. in taking 
a Kner. should sa\ . ""It need make no difterenee between us," you 
winild sa\ . I think. ""It makes all the diHerenee." You would \w{ sit 
contentK watching her go to her meetings, and welcome her home as 
if It made nodillerence. not \^\o\\ lovctl. ^'ou could not work that way, 
and I cannot w ork that w a\ . 

.So let us ntn talk so foolishly. 

^'ou sav life flows into you through her. Then you must have her. 
But do not. quite so facilely . ask me to do what I cannot do. ^" 

Norman icspondcd that Susan should deal with the situation as a realist. Anna 
was pfegnant; her tnother was pressuring her to have an abortion and return to 
college, but Norman wanted to marry her. His chief concern was whether or not 
he and Susan were legally married. ""When we can afford it, we'll go get a di- 
vorce," he wrote her. ""Of course, it all surprises me. What was the sense of our 
not marrying if we couldn't separate without the disgusting mess of a divorce?"''' 
Susan offered to go to Reno to expedite tnatters. but Norman learned that in the 
state o\ Massachusetts, common law marriage did not exist. Still determined to 
marry Anna, he nevertheless remained firm in professing his love and admiration 
for Susan. "I loved you. God knows, and love you now. But it was strange; you 
supported me, you were successful and I wasn't; and then the age difference and- 
no children. It v\as beautiful, beautiful in a very special way-it grew, it began 
as temporary, it became permanent as o\ itself."''" In October of 1932, Norman 
and Anna were married. Some months earlier, Susan had written the following 
letter to Mrs. Walling: 

Norman tells me you know now. so I can write to you. And I write, 
in the lirst place to say I hope nothing can disturb the loving friendship 
that deepened between us as we crossed the ocean together. You re- 
member those days. 1 am sure i shall never forget them. 

Much water has flowed under both our bridges since we came up 
on deck and talked. What we know about each othcr-and isn't it beauti- 
ful that we do? As I grow older I think friendship between women is 
a thing to cherish. 

And i want. Anna, and I tr\ to imagine we are again sitting in deck 
chairs-I want to say. if you have any withholding because of me, 
please don't. I^lease just say to yourself, Susan understands, please 



64 SUSAN GLASPELL 



say, as I do, life is life. I know you must have fears and so let me say 
this, knowing how good NoiTnan has been to mc, 1 know he will be 
good to Anna. You may worry, because she is not going back to col- 
lege. Life with Norman is more than college. 

She has a chance for a deep sensitive feeling about life that will 
informal! her days. Because Norman is beautiful. I who have lost him, 
say that. 

I had eight years with Norman. I know him. Trust him, Anna. If 
we could talk-it's hard to write, for 1 begin to cry, like a fool, and can't 
.see the keys. But Norman was God's gift to me. When Jig died, and 
1 came home from Greece, I thought of myself as the observer. I 
thought. I will try to be brave, and I will write. Then Norman came, 
and loved me and instead of seeing life from death, again I saw it from 
life. I was again in life. That I owe Norman. And I never will forget 
it. 

Don't worry about the years, the gulf of years. Suppose it were a 
callow college boy. What would Anna have from that, to make her an 
understanding woman? She will have much more from Norman. And 
though it may not be forever, because of the years, take what the gods 
give, as I did and for which with my dying breath. I will give thanks. 

The train left from Paris. You and I on the platform, your Anna 
and my Norman outside. And from there it went on. And can't we, 
my dear, from our maturity, say, life is life. I can, with all the hurt 
of these days, as you must. Let us accept. 

I am lonely, as you must know, but I want you to know-1 have no 
resentment against Anna. I too was once nineteen. So were you, dear 
Anna. 

Let us go ahead and try and realize what it is in us. I say a little 
prayer-Dear God, call me home. But I know he won't until he is 
through with me. So perhaps there is something inner, still though hard 
to feel at the worst time. 

Sometime, when this is adjusted, when hurts and fears have died 
down, we will meet again, perhaps again to travel together, because 
we are understanding friends.^' 



5 

Years Alone 



In March of 1933 a new president of the United States was inaugurated. His 
remarks on this occasion were memorable because they advanced the theory that 
it was the responsibility of the federal government to find people jobs. "Our great- 
est task is to put people to work." declared Franklin Delano Roosevelt. "This 
is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accom- 
plished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as 
we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employ- 
ment, accomplishing greatly needed projects. ' " ' 

The homesteader and the inventor, the political boss, the prospector, the rail- 
road magnate, and the robber baron of the previous century would have found this 
notion strange, but there were few opportunities for the rugged individualist in 
a nation of seventeen million unemployed. The optimism of the 1920s had plum- 
meted with the price of blue chip stocks, and the increasing number of bank fail- 
ures and mortgage foreclosures was reflected in the rising rates of suicide and in- 
sanity. 

For Susan Glaspell, too, the confidence of the 1920s was gone. She had begun 
the new decade as a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who earned over $20,000 a year 
and enjoyed acclaim in both America and England. Suddenly her fortunes were 
reversed. An irony more bizarre and melodramatic than she had ever created in 
her plays was at work in her life. Thirty years earlier, as a promising young writer, 
she had taken Jig Cook away from his wife and babies; now. middle-aged and 
in failing health, she had lost Norman Matson to a nineteen-year-old girl who 
could give him the one thing that she could not-a child. 

"Love always, in one way or another, means pain as well as joy," Susan had 
written to her father many years earlier. After losing Norman, Susan was tempted 
to withdraw from life to ensure that she would not be hurt again. She did not do 
so, because she realized to do this would be to go against all she had believed 
and written about. "And yet not to do that \ery thing-to let our affections go out- 
is to shut ourselves off from life and lose what is best in it. And that very pain-the 
loss and grief that comes in the wake of love-has something to yield us if we have 
the courage to take it. It brings new thoughts, a new way of looking at things, 
a deepened understanding and freshened sympathies. "- 

This kind of advice is always easier to give than to take, but Norman made 
it especially difficult for Susan to make a new life for herself, for he continued 
to write her and ask to see her. insisting that he did not want to lose her friendship. 
There were also business matters to discuss; Arthur J. Beckhard was producing 
The Comic Artist in New York that spring and was so determined that the play 



66 SUSAN GLASPELL 



would he a hit that he was niakiiii: radical changes in the script, changes that Nor- 
nian helieved were daniaginy to the pla\ . ""I ha\e wished again and again that 
I had taken your ad\ ice and tried to suppress the pla\ Z" he wrote her. ' Norman 
w as concerned about personal matters as well. He had heard that Susan w as drink- 
ing rather hard; uas this true'.' And his brother had told him that she was li\ing 
on hersa\ ings. Was she all light.* 

Norman's Tears that Susan was in trouble were not untounded. hut linancial 
dilTicuities and e\cessi\e drinking were merel\ s\iiiptoms of the problem. Susan 
was not writing much: what she was writing was not much got)d. and the whole 
situation terrified her. ""i am glad I worked on a newspaper because it made me 
know 1 had to \srite whether I felt like it or not." Susan wrote as she reflected 
on her life in later \ears.^ Now Susan rarel\' felt like it. but disciplined writer that 
she was, she sat down at her txpewriter e\er\ morning at nine o'clock and made 
an effort. "Hrnie. I ha\e a room lull of paper balls, all false starts in writing, but 
I am going to stick to it," she told a friend/' 

During her >ears with Norman writing had come more easil_\ . In an interview 
with a British reporter in h).^2. she outlined her work habits; 

I work almost cnlnvl\ in the countiA . f-\ en there. I ha\e ciuiet three 
limes iemo\ed. W c ha\e a tarm-inuisc on Cape Cod. ten miles ivom 
Pro\ ineclowii. a\\a\ fn^m e\er\thing. There I"\e bLiilt nnseH a little 
shack ](• by 12. among the pines, a gootl fifteen niiinites' walk mer 
the hill from the farmhouse. It's just pme hoards not e\en painted, 
'['here's nothing in it except a table and a chair- not e\en a sola or a 
book. NobinK eomes there with me bat m\ tlog. and if I don't wurk 
l|Listfeelsili\. 

Bui i'\e ne\cr gone there without writing something, 'I'here's a 
magic about the place. Txe s.it down to write and said. ""Well, km iust 
as dead as a door nail," Then I write twci sentences. rhe\ ma\ be no 
giHHl. Hui it's like tapping something. Later \i>i.i can cut out those twi) 
sentenees, and the rest may not be bad.'' 

Susan still went to the little shack in the woods, but now she wiuild go reluc- 
tantly, sick with the knowledge that her morning's wiirk was more likel\ lo end 
up in the wastebasket than in the pages of a maga/ine. Wrestling with her writer's 
block, she told friends, ""I have to decide whether i am not writing because I am 
drinking or whether I am drinking loo much because I am not writing." 

Help came to Susan in the form o\ two job offers, one Worn Hollywood and 
one from Washington, DC. The Hollywood offer was especially appealing, for 
Susan had always been eager to sell her novels and plays to the niovies and was 
interested in the possibilities that this new medium offered the w riter. A few years 
earlier. Paramount Pictures had purchased the rights to Brook f-Aons. and Zoe At- 
kins adapted it for the screen as The Rli^lit lo Low. When a studio showed interest 
in Trifles^ and Susan's agent wrote her that he had told them they could have the 
rights for S5, ()()(), Susan re|-tlied that he might accept a lower figure rather than 



YEARS ALONE 67 



lose the contract. She also memtioned that Suppressed Desires and Womcin's 
Honor m\ghl also make interesting films. But she accepted Hallie Flanagan's offer 
to move to Chicago and hect)me the director of the Midwest Pla\ Bureau \\n the 
Federal Theater Project. Although her salary would he only $200 a month, she 
felt the gcncrnmcnt posiliiin would pa\ extra dividends. This job would take her 
back to the Midwest. "\ feel if 1 can w back there. I can start writing again,"" 
she told her stepdaughter N i 1 la . ^ 

In the fall of 1936 Susan Glaspell arrived in Chicago to participate in this 
unique venture. As a reporter dramatically phrased it. '"She abandoned her Mas- 
sachusetts farm home, dropped a half-finished novel, boarded a train for Chicago 
and started the task of combing the Midwest for new talents, new writers, new 
plays. . . ."■'' Susan's conception of the Federal Theater Project was typically 
idealistic: ""In 1935 Uncle Sam went into the show business because people were 
hungry. He stayed in the business because it has been discovered that people were 
not only hungry for food-they were hungry for the theater, too. "" '" 

The situation in Chicago was somewhat grimmer than she had envisioned. 
When Susan airived. she found that she had to cope with an inadequate staff, high 
turno\er. lack of interest, hostile critics, lax financial management, a regional di- 
rector who was more interested in auditioning plays with Broadway potential than 
putting people to work, and a Washington official who wanted her to dramatize 
Gone Wlih (he Wind. 

In addition to these problems within the Play Bureau, there were 283 vaudevil- 
lians on the Chicago payroll doing very few performances, two theaters sitting 
empty at a cost of several thousand dollars per month, and a Negro company oc- 
cupying the Princess Theater with no immediate plans for a production. "Kay 
Ewing. Ken Davis. Bob McKeague and Susan Glaspell all feel there is a complete 
lack o\' planning and McKeague and Davis are very much worried about the fi- 
nances." wrote Deputy National Director John McKee to Hallie Flanagan in 
November of 1936. ' ' 

Another difficulty Susan faced was the ill health that had plagued her since 
college days. ""Ms. Glaspell was both a delightful and a difficult personality." 
wrote Don Farran. "Her ill health while preceding me as Director of the Midwest 
Service (Play and P.R. Bureau) in Chicago kept her from advancing the play writ- 
ing there. Scripts llowing in from other sources kept her busy-there were 1400 
play scripts in the files awaiting my reading when I arrived. . . ."'~ 

In spite o\' these problems the Chicago Federal Theater went on to produce 
some of the most exciting plays seen during the existence of the Federal Theater 
Project, including the all-black Swini^ Mikado, Arnold Sundgaard's Spirochete, 
and black playwright Theodore Ward's Bii^ White Fo^. These accomplishments 
were made possible, in part, by Susan's insistence that her office was not a clearin- 
ghouse, and that her job was to find and read plays, make recommendations for 
production, and work on a one-to-one basis with the playwrights. A November 
6 memo to Hallie Flanagan from Susan Glaspell, George Kondolf, and John 
McGee stated, "It is not the functicni of the Midwest Play Bureau to serve as a 



6S SUSAN GLASPELL 



registration headquarters for plays proposed by the several projects in the region 
nor to handle the matter of contracts for play rentals and other business details 
connected with the securing of rights for production . " ' ^ 

Once free of these tasks, Susan began with real enthusiasm to search for prom- 
ising plays to produce. "I am on the search for plays of the Midwest, by the Mid- 
west, and for the Midwest," she wrote to E. C. Mabie, accepting his invitation 
to attend the dedication of a new theater at the University of Iowa that fall. '"^ By 
1 June 1 937, 600 plays had been submitted to the Midwest Play Bureau, and Susan 
Glaspell had read most of them. Of these plays she said, "If they are promising 
we try to work with the authors and help them get their plays ready for production. 
If they won't do we still try to offer criticisms and suggestions."''' Some of the 
plays that she was most enthusiastic about were Ruth Morris's The Lowells Talk 
Only to God, Marcus Bach's Within These Walls, Harold Igo's Ohio Doom, 
Edwin Self's The Great Spirit, and Howard Koch's The Lonely Man. She was 
also looking for both a good farm play and a pageant that would show the develop- 
ment of the Midwest from frontier to farming community. 

Perhaps Susan Glaspell was enthusiastic about the Federal Theater because 
through her work for it, she was able to feel the same excitement she had felt as 
one of the Provincetown Players, who had the same goal as the Federal Theater 
Project: to develop and encourage native American playwrights. At times the bu- 
reaucratic problems seemed overwhelming, but she was always ready to fight for 
the Federal Theater because she believed that only a people's theater rooted in 
the regions of the nation would be able to break the stranglehold that Broadway 
had on the American theater. She was especially resentful of critics' implications 
that actors and writers on relief were incapable of turning out a superior produc- 
tion. '"Considering who did it,' preceded almost every review of the early 
plays," she told a reporter. "Some of the critics have become careless and have 
forgotten to use it lately."'^ In September of 1937 she wrote Hallie Flanagan that 
she thought the reviews of several one-act plays performed in Chicago were most 
unfair. "None of the critics liked Blocks and not one of them had the decency 
to say it had a real ovation on opening night. ... I do not know what to make 
of the Chicago critics, and I have a fear that they have a W.P.A. antagonism al- 
most impossible to break down. Charles Collins, of the Tribune, did not stay for 
the O'Casey play, even though the bill was very short and he was a long way from 
his deadline. Who he thinks he is to walk out on Sean O'Casey, I do not know." 
She offered to write a magazine article that would rebut the criticisms if Hallie 
Flanagan thought this would be helpful. "Whether this would be the right tactics 
I do not know. As a playwright I rather hate to launch an attack on the critics, 
but if my country needs me , I am there . " ' ^ 

Another topic that Susan was quick to decry was the exploitation of directors 
and playwrights. When Garrett Leverton, her choice for a replacement director, 
was offered a salary that was considerably less than the other directors were re- 
ceiving, Susan appealed to Hallie Flanagan: 



YEARS ALONE 69 



I was sorry things went so badly because I am convinced he would 
bring real distinction to the Chicago project. It was a year ago now that 
you astced me to come out here, and at the beginning of my second year 
I am hesitating very seriously as to whether 1 should go on. I do not 
feel 1 can give another whole year at my present salary, which is 
$200.00 a month. This feeling of my own perhaps made it easier to 
understand Mr. Leverton. Money talks-not only in terms of money, 
but of esteem. The difference between what 1 have on the Federal Thea- 
ter and what I could make through my own work is considerable . ' *" 

Quite naturally. Susan's sympathy was with the director or playwright in such dis- 
putes, and she did not hesitate to make her position known to her superiors, not 
only on financial matters, but on questions of artistic freedom as well. When 
Theodore Ward's Big White Eog was criticized by a project administrator as hav- 
ing "outright sales appeal for Communism and offensively worded speeches 
about white people,"''^ Susan held firm and sent the script to Howard Miller, a 
Washington project official. "I am very anxious we get approval on this soon as 
the play is in rehearsal and we are very anxious to do it," she told him. ''Are 
you coming to Chicago? I hope so and that I will have a chance to talk with you. """ 
Similarly, when Arnold Sundgaard was having difficulty securing the rights 
to Spirochete, Susan took the matter up with Hallie Flanagan: 

I am writing you regarding Arnold Sundgaard's rights in his play. 
Spirochete. 

... I am sure you can understand my interest and my feeling of 
responsibility. Mr. Sundgaard is in my Department and it was I who 
suggested he begin work on the script. I feel I must do everything in 
my power toward securing just action for him on this. 

When Mr. Minturn went to New York I gave him a statement as 
to the fact regarding project and non-project time. Mr. Sundgaard did 
all his own research and you can imagine .something of the hours this 
involved. It meant not only library work, but going to clinics, lectures, 
interviewing doctors, etc. Not all of this research work was done on 
project time and not all of the writing. I should estimate that about one- 
third of the research was done on project time. He was certified for five 
and sometimes only four hours and f6r five days a week. He worked 
night and day. He would work for more than twelve hours a day. I do 
not know how he was able to do it. During the month of December 
when he began research he continued his work as playreader. Through- 
out this time he did some reading of plays. He was all the while as- 
signed as playreader and not as playwright. Up until almost the very 
last of this time he was assigned at $94.00 a month. 1 will be glad to 
make affidavit to these facts. 

In view of this situation, I have an idea you will agree with me that 
it would be most unfair for him not to have the rights to his play. He 
did a wonderful piece of work and it may go far. He is just beginning 



70 



SUSA\ GLASPFJJ. 



his career and I am com iiiccd he is j^omi: to become one ol our leadin-.! 
pla\ u nyhls. Surei\ ue do iioi uanl lo Heal hnii inilanix . 

I liope \oLi know how sironi: is m\ leciini: lor the f-cdeial Theater. 
I think I ha\e shown it in ivniainmL! here more than a \ ear and a halt. 
\i\\ iiil: up m\ ow n work Irom which I make a L^re.it deal more, and also 
weaken iiil; m\ ow n position, heeanse il \ou pause too loiii; m the wril- 
iiil: world it is a disad\antaL:e to _\our name. 

Ikit strong: as is m\ leelnv^ \ov the l-ederal Iheater. I think it onl\ 
riiiht to tell \ou now that it this matter cannot be arraiiLied with justice 
to Mr, .Sundyaard within the iheater. I shall teel compelled to take it 
to the immediate attenlion ol the Dramatists' (iuild, ' 

In May of \^)}X. Susan Glaspcll rcsigticd as Director t)t the Midwest Play Bu- 
reau. She leturneti to a Pi\)\ incetow ii that uas li\el\ with writers who thank and 
talked sliop together, ehit'tiny in aiul oin of each other's homes as the nienihers 
of the Pio\ ineetow n IMaxeis did twenty years earlier. ' 'There was no afternoon 
when this groupdid not meet m one house or another."" wrote Mar\ Heaton Vorse. 
■"All o\' us went awa\ sc) often and had tra\eled so much that it had none o\ the 
ini!ix)wn qualitv of peojile who see too much of each other. There was almost no 
gossip, because exerNone was interested in things outside in writing, iniinting or 
in the affairs of the world. The occasional parties had a real gaietx . """- 

Susan lo\ed Pixn ineetow n social life. partK because it stimulated her writing. 
Just as her noxels and pla\s showed her awareness o\ the problem o\' the artist's 
relation to societx . howexer. she lecogni/ed in her own lile the contliet between 
living a full lite and doing the best work that she could: 

>()u want to see people, to talk, to be a litlle reckless. \ou can't cut 
all that out. ^'ou do sjet ideas from being with [teiiple. ,\n\wa\. \ou 
\sant to II \i)u alwciNs sa\ \ou must lea\e at Iwebe \ou miss some- 
thing. The part\ will go on lor two hours more. People will drink a 
little more, will talk and express ihemseKes more I'reelx \ou drink 
a little more xouisell and come out o\' \our shell. It helps \oli under- 
stand people better, and perhaps know \ourscll better. \o\.\ lust can't 
cut all that out. .'\nd \et it's nice lo be back again in \ our own \illai;e, 
with Iriends who know \ou go to bed e\er\ nighl at ele\en. You must 
somehow keep the balance. The glow will come from being a little 
reckless, but downrii:ht wdrk must be done soberK . "' 



During the PX^Os and PMOs Susan's Pro\ incetow n friends included Charles 
.lackson, Waldo Prank. Hben (ji\en and his wife Phyllis Dugannc. Edmund Wil- 
son, anti .John and Katie Dos Passtis, who lived across the street. She also enjoyed 
the com|xin\ o\' a group o\ newspaper people wlu) summered in Pro\ incetow n; 
Dorothy and lanest Me\er, Icil and Martha Robinson. Chaunce\ and Mar\ Hac- 
kett and her brother I .angston Molfett. p;benCii\en lecalletl her at this time as full 
o\' fun and especiallv atlept at charades, and 1. angston Moffett noted her ■"ice box 
su|-»iiers."" "[m|-)ro\ ised on the s|nir o\' the moment. the\ consisted oi tln\>wing 



>7;.4A'.S M.()\F 71 



all left-oxers, no nuilterhow inisiiiatched. into a pot to heat.""^"* 

She also kept iii toiieh with old Irieiuls. When the old Coast Ciiiaid station 
Eugene O'Neill had li\ed ni slid into the sea. Susan eahled him in F-ranee and 
helped to saKage as inan\ of his possessions as pi)ssihle. Laurenee Laniinei". ol 
the Theater Cuuld. had been liiends with Susan ever sinee the i'ro\ ineetown 
Players put on his play. Pic . and was a trequent guest at her parties. 

Another old friend from the Pro\ineetown Pla\ers was Han\ Kemp, seif- 
st\led ■"tramp poet." who was ehronieally unemployed. ""Susan was always 
K)oking for some way for Harry to earn a little money," remembered Dorothy 
Me\er. ""and she was a \ei\' )10(k\ gardener herself. She started a lihert\ garden 
during the war hut she wasn't quite up to it so she hired Harry to woxk for her 
in the garden. One da\ she came to me we had a house about a block away from 
her-and said, "i am trxing to figure out a v\ay to pay Harry not to work in my 
garden. ""^^ Undoubtedly Harr\ was aware of Susan's concern for him. for when 
she ga\e hun a rather large sum o\ nH)ne\ . actually from Charles Jackson, and 
told him it was from an anonymous benefactor, he simply refused to believe her. 
""That is Just Susan."" he told a friend. ""I'm sine she gave me that money."""'' 

Susan's generosity with both her money and her time was recalled by many 
people. After she returned from Chicago, she was earning only slightly over 
55. ()()() a year: \et she supported her ph\ sically disabled brother Ray and thought 
nothing o^ i)ffering one i)f her royalty checks to a friend for a down payment on 
a house. When her old friend Sinclair Lewis was appearing in Ah, Wilderness! 
in Provincetown. Susan planned a part}' for him and arranged for Ernie Meyer 
and Ted Robinson to meet him there so that they could publicize his acting venture 
in their columns. He arrived at the part\ drunk, entering through a window, with 
a young ingenue; w hen he appeared to be more interested in Susan"s liquor than 
her friends, the columnists decided to write about something else. Susan was left 
to cope with a surly Sinclair Lewis who would not go home until he had consumed 
all of her liquor.-^'' 

Susan was usually sympathetic to people who had pn)blems with alcohol, 
perhaps because she herself did. Harry Kemp would sometimes turn up at her 
house after he had been imbibing heavily, and Susan would attempt to persuade 
him not to try to get home in his condition; only his affinity for books would con- 
vince him that he should spend the night in her library instead of on the beach. "^ 
Martha Robinson remembered the summer that she and Ted were renting Susan's 
Provincetown house. One night they heard a prowler downstairs, but when Ted 
went to mvestigate. he was too late to catch anything but a glimpse of the intruder 
escaping through the bathroom window. When they reported the incident to 
Susan, she laughed and said, "Oh, that was just Harry Kemp. He knows where 
I keep my liquor and I alwa\s leave the bathroom window unlocked so he can 
get in to get it."-^'' 

Susan soon became known as the woman who would be generous w ith liquor 
and cigarettes to those who were supposed to be on the wagon. Of one of these 
people she said, ""You know, he would come sneaking over for a cigarette and 



72 



SUSAN GLASPELL 




YEARS ALONE 



73 




Susan Glaspell near the end of her life. Courlesy uf Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collec- 
tion, New York Public Library. 



J 4 Si' SAN G LAS PELL 



il' anyone wants a ciyaicttc that hadl\. I am not goini: to deny it."""' Because she 
tried to abstain Ironi hqiior when she was writing. Sus;in would drink with her 
friends, hut she would iiet a small glass o\' whiskey and water, adding water with 
each sip si) that e\entuall\ she would he drinking pure water while her companion 
was drinking liquor. '' 

A laNorite drinking companion of Susan's was her stepson. Harl Cook, who 
would roar into Pro\ incetown on his motorc\clc. often accompanied hy his cur- 
rent girlfriend, and make the rounds of the F*ro\ inceti)wn bars, occasionally on 
roller skates. Susan was tolerant oi the wnimani/ing. the drinking, and even the 
roller-skating, but she was terrified that Harl would kill himself on the motorcycle 
and tried to persuade Ted and Martha Robinson to steal it and hide it in their shed. 
Nevertheless, she loved Harl and would indulge him in almost any other whim. 
When he was put on a diet for medical reasons, Susan went on the same diet to 
be sure that Harl would get the right kind o( food. At one point. Harl had a job 
with a milk company writing a promotional pamphlet that featured stories about 
a character called Bill\ White. Less than enthusiastic about the job. Harl one day 
told Susan that he was all out o\' Billy White stories and could not care less. Susan, 
knowing that her young friend Karl Meyer lo\ed the stories, tried to help Harl 
with his work, and soon the Pulit/er Pri/e-w inning dramatist was writing the little 
stories herself. ' 

Perhaps the Billy White stories ga\e Susan the idea to tr\ a book for a younger 
audience. She had always been disappointed at nol ha\ ing a child o( her ow n and 
was deeply touched when Dorothy Meyer asked her to be the godnnnher o\' her 
newborn daughter. Earlier Diirothy had realized how much nK)therhood would 
have meant to Susan when she found Susan hanging out baby clothes on the line. 
"I am overcoming something very sentimental that 1 should have overcome years 
ago,"" Susan told Dt)rothy. The baby clothes were things that Susan had gotten 
ready for the baby she and Jig were expecting in 1914. After the miscarriage, 
Susan had not been able to give them away. Now her maid Francelina was pre- 
gnant out ol' wedlock and the town was talking. "'Everybody is down on her."" 
said Susan, "'and I have this drawer of bab\ clothes which I have never used but 
1 could never part with them and so I ha\e decided to bring them oul in the sun 
and air and be the first one to gi\ c io Francelina. " " ""^ 

Susan had second thoughts about being a godmother, hi)v\e\er. 'T"m not sure 
1 would be a good godmother," she demurred. "T ha\c read about it and 1 found 
that the gi)dmothcr"s position is to take care o[ the morals of the child. 1 don"t 
know how good 1 would be at that."" *^ Despite herdi)ubts abiiut her probitw Susan 
became a godmother and her C"hristmas gift [o her namesake in 1940 was a tin\' 
children"s book, ChcrislnuUiiuLSIhircd ofOliL 

Shortly before Clicrishcil hihI Sinned oj Old was published, Susan Glaspeirs 
seventh novel, 77;c Moniin^^ Is Near Us. was chosen to be a Literary Guild selec- 
tion for 1940, and J. B. l.ippincott and Company honored Susan with a cocktail 
party in New York. A New York Hendd nccouni of this party indicates that even 
though her friends included Sinclair Lewis, .lohn Dos Passos. and Edmund Wil- 



YEARS ALONE 75 



son. she uas still sonic uhal nai\c and lUKoniloilablc in New ^'olk literals ciiclcs: 
■"And she said. uiie\peetedl\ and aniusinylx . when l-raiik Case was inlicKkieed 
to her that she had alwa\s wanted to attend a literal} pait\ at the Aliionquin. hut 
this was her Inst opportiinits . . . . Ihen she said to Mr. Case. "I liked w///- book," 
{/'(.lies (>l (I WdYWcird Inn) before he had a chance to sa\ it to her ol her new nt)\el. 
'I'lic Mornin;^ Is Xtuii- Is. Altogether she reversed all rules orpi-oeediire. . . ."""' 

When /'//(' Minnin'^ Is AVwr I's was published, the Second World War had 
beyun. and in a speech deli\eretl at the Boston Book bair Susan (ilaspcll at'tirmed 
her belie! in literature as a means of bringing about a better world. It is an optimis- 
tic speech entitled " Ihe Huntsmen Are I'p in .America."" Ihe huntsmen are the 
huntsmen lor the truth, the writers whose \ision can enlighten a world menaced 
b\ the unthinking and the power mad. '■The visii)n and tight for a better world 
could not ha\e had so long a life on earth were mn they of the very stuff of life 
itself. This is our great moment. Dare to dream! Be unabashed in the dream. The 
dreamers who will light will win' Light against darkness-more light-less dark. 
Increasingl\ unfaltering. Stun the powers of darkness with the affirmation-The 
huntsmen are up in America'"" " 

In December of \^)42. Susan Glaspell reiterated her belief that literature oflers 
the vision of a better world in an article in the Chlcn'^o Sunday Trihinn'. She de- 
scribed an evening w hen w riters gathered at her home to talk of literature and the 
war. Her own memories o{' France, heightened by Katie Dos Passos"s reading of 
Wait Whitman's "O Star of France."" brought her to the thought that books can 
hearten and guide us in a time of world crisis. ^^ 

It is only in light of these occasions that her reaction to J. B. Lippincott and 
Ct)mpany's request that she turn over her book plates to the war effort can be un- 
derstood. In September of 1942 her publisher informed her that the United States 
government had requested them to turn over all book plates for which they had 
no immediate use. Her response was a strongly worded protest that admitted the 
need for metal and released the plates for The Glory of the Concfuered but pleaded 
tor a rect)nsideration oi' Brook Evcin.s. Eui^ltive' s Return, and Ambrose Holt and 
FiUiiily. "If a writer won't fight for her own books, who will? The publisher'.' I 
hope so." she concluded.'"' 

Susan's resistance to Lippineott's plans to turn over her book plates to the 
scrap metal drive can hardly be construed as unpatriotic or egotistical, for she do- 
nated the bronze plaque that Eugene O'Neill ordered placed in the Provineetown 
Pla> house to commemorate Jig Cook. When the (Mganization became defunct and 
the building changed hands. Mrs. Jenny Belardi, the landlady who remembered 
Susan and Jig from the days of the old Provineetown Players, gave the plaque to 
Susan. "I have thought a long time and been very troubled as to what it was right 
I do about this bronze memorial plaque to my husband, George Cram Cook," she 
told the Provineetown Advocate. "But here is twelve pounds of bronze resting 
in this house as a memorial when the America he loved, as we all love it. has des- 
perate need of the metal in winning the war and shaping the better world of his 
old dream. "^" 



7(5 SUSAN GLASPELL 

"Chicago is many things to many people and to me it is a place where you 
can write. ' ' Although this comment seems to contradict other remarks Susan made 
to Hallie Flanagan and the news media about being unable to do her own work 
while serving as Director of the Midwest Play Bureau, Susan indicated to her pub- 
lisher that both The Morning Is Near Us and Norma Ashe were written in Chicago. 
"I would take a small apartment in my brother's building, work undisturbed all 
day, then take the dog for a walk in the park or the Number One bus to the library, 
enjoying being a stranger in the crowds, listening to the people and speculating 
about them-and sometimes getting blown off the sidewalk."^' In 1941 an article 
in the Davenport Times indicated that Susan had met her stepson Had and his wife 
there, before leaving for Chicago, where Susan had been staying with her brother 
Ray since February. "A new edition of The Road to the Temple, Miss Glaspell's 
biography of her husband, the late George Cram Cook, will be released in June 
by Stokes. In the meantime. Miss Glaspell has been at work on a new novel which 
is yet untitled.""*" 

This novel. Norma Ashe, was published in 1942. Very much a contemporary 
novel, it does not deal directly with World War II, but rather with what Susan 
Glaspell believed to have brought about this tragedy. Norma Ashe details the fail- 
ure of idealism, the slow, steady process by which youthful ideas are des royed, 
perverted, buried by the tedium of daily life. It is the story of six students influ- 
enced by a philosophy teacher at a small midwestern college they attended at the 
turn of the century. They had graduated aflame with the zeal to spread his vision 
throughout the world, but after twenty years they all in their own ways have bet- 
rayed the vision with which he has entrusted them. Susan Glaspell focuses on one 
of these students. Norma Ashe, who has become Mrs. Max Utterbach when the 
novel opens in 1927, and traces the process through which she reaffirms her com- 
mitment to the ideals of her youth . 

A more convincing expression of Susan Glaspell's idealism is found in Jiidd 
Rankin's Daughter, published in 1945, three years before her death. It is a better 
novel than Norma Ashe because it is more carefully structured and clearly focused 
on specific contemporary issues. The point of view is limited to that of Frances 
Rankin Mitchell and her father, Judd Rankin, who represent eastern liberalism 
and midwestern isolationism respectively. The novel is set in New York City, 
Davenport, and Provincetown; in her treatment of these settings, Susan Glaspell 
is attentive to detail, and these regions come to life in the novel, enhancing the 
thematic development . 

"The Middle West must have taken strong hold of me in my early years for 
I've never ceased trying to figure out why it is as it is," Susan wrote to Edmund 
Wilson dbout Judd Rankin' s Daughter. "And [I] think maybe, through Judd Ran- 
kin, I got at a bit of the truth. ""^-^ Her supposition is correct, for in the character 
of Judd, she has captured the "Iowa stubborn" attitude so typical of the midwest- 
ern character. Judd Rankin is a farmer-writer who began editing a periodical, Out 
Here, to refute people who claimed that "a man with ideas would starve to death 
out here . "^"^ In later years this chauvinistic stance has troubled him, and he ceases 



YEARS ALONE 77 



publication when he reali/cs that human \akics and concerns transcend geog- 
raphy. He asks himseh'. "■"Was the Mississippi \alle\ opened up to save Po- 
land'.'""""'^ Surprised that his answer is att'irniati\e, lie heyins to question every- 
thing he has helie\ed for the jxist t\\ent\ \ears. 

a\1I the same, Judd Rankin is of the mind that the tarm boys lighting in France 
and in the Pacific wtuild serxe their country better by staying home and farming 
the land. '"Mind youv own business and be prepared to give food to the starving" 
is Judd Rankin's brand o{ isolationism. ""Hell of a commentary on life when it 
took a mass killing to bring out the best in a man."""' .ludd Rankin's pride in his 
native region is seen in his creation o\' the Swamp Neck Jenkses, fictional rep- 
rcsentatics of the Iowa pioneer spirit. 

He wcHiki sec ihcni ci^piiig slo\\i\ in their covered v\ag()ns. stopping 
beneath tiie oak. just as he did ! 'hc> ucrc a little da/ed b\ the long 
trip they were wondering wondering what their lite was going to he. 
The) "d taken an enormous chance. One thing they were sure of- 
the\ 'd ha\e to work: they wanted to work make a go of it, but did they 
know tlie\ "d work from daw n till dark, meet death and tailure -and next 
da\ go at it again'.* Some ol them were cantankerous and some were 
funny and others had in their c\es a patient look that might seem dumb. 
Patience can go o\er into dumbness- at the same time, don't lool your- 
selt; the\ //</(/ something these e)uiet ones who were going to work 
their hands raw . That fnik always ga\c him a feeling ot wanting to pro- 
tect them against a world the\' ma\be weren't ornery enough to deal 
with. Irom encroachments the\ couldn't see in time and emikln't stop 
an\ wa\ . He Uned them the whole kit and caboodle ol Jenkses, though 
he cussed them too.^ 

Judd's daughter Frances is of a different mind. She has mo\ed east and married 
a writer who takes a broader view of world affairs than his father-in-law. Widely 
known as a liberal intellectual. Pen Mitchell had been active in the fight to save 
Sacco and Van/etti and the Scottsboro defendants; at present, he is a vocal oppo- 
nent of fascism. He finds his father-in-law's narrower viewpoint disturbing and 
is concerned about his friend Steve Halsey's flirtation with right-wind pt)litics. 

Another conflict involves Frances's friend .lulia, a,lewish woman from New 
York who wants [o buy a summer home in Prov incetown. Kni)w ing that her friend 
Marianna has such a house tor sale, luances takes Julia to see it. only to find that 
Mariannadoes not want to sell ti) Jews. 

Frances is shocked b\ her friend's anti Semitism and disturbed that Steve 
Halsey has interpreted her lather's new book, I'lic Jenkses. as supportive o\' his 
fascist point ot view. .Anti-Semitism, fascism, and midwestern isolationism are 
linked in Frances's mind, along with socialism and communism, as ways of think- 
ing that are too narrow to accommodate the truth. 

This truth is represented for Frances by Cousin Adah, an eighty -year-old 
woman wht) is dviuLi as the novel bciiins, but who will live forever in F^'rances's 



7H SUSA\' GIASPF.LL 



incmor) . Cousin Adah was beautitul and wcalttn . \ct tun k)\ uig and liicndK lo 
everyone. Stie was cquall\ capable of da/ylinsi Daxenport societ\ at an Outing 
Cluh ball and sitting up w ith an alcoholic friend at the risk ot her reputation. She 
was intelligent without being intellectual, worldly without being materialistic. .'\l- 
though married to a Da\enport businessman. Adah managed to make trequent 
trips to Chicago to attend the opera and \isit a special newspaperman Iriend. She 
was vers much a part ot'the Midwest. \et she transcended its narrow ci)n\entions. 
Cousin Adah represents the paradoxical elements in lite, and the past that lives 
in the present, very real proof to Frances that there is more to lite than an\' one 
philosophy can co\er. 

The problem of most immediate concern to Frances is her son Judson who has 
suffered a mental breakdown while fighting in the Pacific. When he returns to Pro- 
vineelown. Len and Frances learn that he blames their liberal politics for the car- 
nage he has witnessed in combat. .ludscMi's reaction against the point oi' \ iew that 
urges intervention in the world's problems, coupled with her father's America- 
Firstism and Steve Halse\ "s conversion lo fascism cause Frances to doubt her t)w n 
attitude toward life. Like her father. Judson seems paraK/ed, his mental anguish 
mirroring his grandfather's inabilit\ to see turther than the immediate needs ol' 
his region. But while Judd Rankin cherishes the old oak that is the li\ ing presence 
of his pioneer past. .ludson takes a special pleasure in disposmg of the willow tree 
that has grown up with his tamil\ . To Frances the tree evokes lo\el\ menmries. 
and she is crushed when a hurricane uproots it: to .ludson it is simply rubbish to 
be disposed of. "This was not Judson. She telt desolated. More than the tree had 
gone."""'*^ 

In time. Frances's faith in liberalism is restored. Marianna decides to o\'l'cr 
the house to Julia: Judd Rankin publishes a piece ot work that proves he is capable 
of a more universal vision: and Judson is reconciled with his parents. The old 
ideals of humanitarianism. democracy, freedom, and brotherhood are vindicated 
as the Mitchells are once again in harmony with each other. Susan Glaspell has 
managed to pull off another happy ending, but this one seems less contrived than 
those of Ambrose Holt ami Family, Norma Ashe, or The Mornhiii Is Near Us. 
The forces in conllict in this no\el appear equally matched, and the structure of 
the book is achronological, shifting the reader back and forth in time and develop- 
ing several levels ol' action simultaneousl\ . Thus the reader is prevented from 
sensing that either side will win an easy \ictor\ . Also, the fact that Judson and 
his father come to be friends again just as Frances leaves to comtort a neighbor 
who has Just learned that herou n son has been killed in the war dispels the impres- 
sion ot a tacilely happy ending. 

In I'M.S Susan Glaspell wrote Lawrence Langner. 'T've written a play a com- 
edy, and I wonder if you'd care to read it; and if you think they might be inter- 
ested-pass it on to the rest i)f the ITheater] Guild''""^''The casual tone of the letter 
belied her concern that after a fourteen-year absence from the New York stage, 
she could not create a producible play. 



YFARS Al.().\F. 79 



Her Icais uciv JListilictl. l.;i\\ icucc l-aiii:nci"s rcpl\ was one ot Licnllc aiul ic- 
grctlul rc|cclic)ii. 

! lia\o liosilalcci a \ouiz time hcloiv writiiii: \ou about ""Spriniis \Acr- 
iiai" because it is aulullx diMieult to put ui \m>i\Is ni\ rceluii:s about 
the \Ma\ III uciv to ti\ to sa\ il ui a k'tlci'. I know I uouki onl\ lia\c 
\ou hopck'ssK contused 1 do not ha\c so iiuicli a ck'ar-cut uUcllcctual 
coin iction about tlic pla\ as a Iccline that most ot us hascyouc throui:li 
uhal these ehaiacteis went through two or thiee sears aiio and aiTi\ed 
at the conclusion two or three \ears aj^o. This isn't a i:ood reason loi 
not doiUL: a pla\ I'erhaps the other reason is that it is until the niiddle 
ot tiie second act so much ol acon\ersation piece. 

Again. I hesitate to write \ou about the pla\ , \'ou know. Susan. 
I think that \oli ha\e one ol the Imest talents in America and it is an 
impertinence on m\ part to critiei/e ainthiny sou write. Perhaps I am 
too much immersed in the practical theater and voli are closer ti^ the 
truth than I am. I would much rather talk to \i)u about it than write 

_\IU1.^" 

■'Sprinys Eternal"" is supposed to he a World War II eoinedv , but tired jokes about 
the Red Cfoss. gasoline rationing, and extramarital alTaiis do little to relieve its 
tedium. Langner"s letter indieates that there is a lot of talk in this play, but he was 
too taettul to add that the talk is neither wittv norprot'ound. 

Susan (llaspelTs disappointment at the Theater Guild's rejeetion of "Springs 
Eternal"" was balaneed b\ her joy at the arrival of her stcpgrandson, Sirius Cook. 
■"I don't know if Em read\ for the next generation." Susan had told Nilla when 
she proposed sending her son to Susan. ~'' But Sirius eamc, and Susan weleomed 
him as she had weleomed her stepehildren, Harl and Nilla. thirty years earlier. 
"My Greek grandson is here with me now." she wrote to Langston Moffett at 
Christmastime in 1946. "And it's as if Jig's dream of Greeee had taken form in 
our world of today. Here is the future-because there was that past. "^" 

Nilla's son Sirius had arrived the previous August to stay with his step- 
grandmother while preparing for eollegeentranee exams. Hisehildhood memories 
of Susan were of a vivaeious woman who loved wirehaired terriers and entertained 
the li\eliest and wittiest people in Provineetown. He returned to find an elderly 
semi-in\ alid, who was often depressed and worried about money, but whose sense 
o\' humor was still intaet. Always an avid reader, Susan was so tortured by eye 
tix)uble during the last few years of her life that radio soap operas had beeome 
for her what books had onee been. She was suffering from anemia and heart 
trouble, but she still adhered to a regiiTien that ineluded writing every morning 
for several hours, despite her failing powers of eoneentration. 

Susan took a keen interest in her grandson, helping him eh(H)se tutors, diseus- 
sing his problems and politieal ideas, and taking him to a town meeting to see 
Ameriean demoeraey in aetion. When Sirius voieed his objeetions to an anti- 
Greek remark made by one speaker, Susan indulgently apologized for the seven- 



80 



SUSAN (JLASPELL 



tcen-ycar-old \ctcran of the Greek anin , and the ehairman ruled him out or 
order. ^' 

Susan's social life had diminished during the last lew years ot her life, hut 
she was still wilhnii to meet with aspiring writers and critiei/e their work. When 
a summer theater group put on a production o!' ,4//.sy'/;'.s House m Pnnincetown 
m 1^W6. she attended almost all of the rehearsals and helped to make changes in 
the play. On opening night, when presented w ith roses after the curtain calls, she 
stood up and said, ""l think the real theater has come again to Pnnincetown. ""'^ 

That summer a rival theater group had come to Pro\ incetown. calling them- 
selves the Provincetown Players. Susan was no slower to ohject to what she be- 
lieved was exploitation that she had been twenty years earlier when the Triunn i- 
rate tried the same ploy. ""The name Pixnincetown Players still stands Uir an 
amazing burst of creative energy. Now comes a group of people from New ^ork 
and without so much as a by-your-lea\e to us. these Broadway actors till the tow n 
with posters declaring they are the Provincetown Players." Susan's strongly 
worded letter to the Provimetown Advocate, which was picked up by the .-Xs- 
sociated Press and given nationwide coverage, concluded with the thought. ""If 
haddock began calling themselves mackerel, would the fish-minded be 
ft)oled?"'^^ 

Susan had never been politically active. In the 192()s she had signed petitions 
for the pardon of Sacco and Vanzetti and against censorship of the lesbian 
novel. VW// of Loneliness, but she had never been active in labor or suffrage move- 
ments. Nevertheless, she did not hesitate to voice her i)pinion on important civic 
and political issues and was respected by the people o^ Provincetow n for her integ- 
rity. When she opposed the widening of Rider Street because it would involve 
the loss of some trees, the Provincetown Civic Assocition had them mo\ed to the 
lawn of the town hall, and planted a Chinese elm there in her honor.""' 

She abhorred censorship and spoke out against the banning of Ayn Rand's The 
Foiintainhead from the Provincetown Library, just as she had opposed the Da\ en- 
port Library Board's banning o\'The Finality of tlie Christian Religion fort\ \ears 
earlier. " "Censorship by a small group violates a right that is very precious to us. 
and one that should be guarded at all costs. This right is the freedom of speech." 
she told a meeting oi' a local women's group. "We are naturall\ not in favor of 
obscene literature nor of a book that would tend to corrupt morals, but we should 
be very careful in our judgment in regard to these issues."''^ 

Susan's last \ears were difficult ones; her health was poor, her income was 
low . and she seemed unable to sustain a short stor\ . One e\ening she and Lben 
(liven walketl down Commercial Street on a cokl winter night, bright with moon 
aiul stars. ""1 suppose I'll the here, won't 1. Lben." she said quietK .""^ The folkn\- 
mg .lul\ Susan became ill with what seemed t() be a cold hut de\eloped into \iral 
[ineumonia and ended in pulmonary embolism. "She la\ on a di\an in the front 
room, speaking to no one. \e!\ much aware i)f the imminence (if her death." re- 
called 1-ben (iiven.^" Her friend Alice Palmer and stepst)n Harl Cook, as well as 
Mr. Cn\en. helped to nurse her through her last illness. 



YEARS ALONE HI 



Susan Glaspell died on 27 July 1948. She was seventy-two yers old. The little 
house on Commercial Street was filled with people, for well-known writers and 
artists as well as the ordinary people of Provincetown came to pay their respects. 
"Her mind was as broad in her friendships as in her opinions/' eulogized the Pro- 
vincetown Advocate .^'^^ And some who were there recalled her response to Alice 
MeynelTs assertion that life is a series of rejections. Susan disagreed, and the be- 
lief that she offered in its place is one that captures the essence of both her life 
and her work: "I would put it. life is a series of acceptances."''' 



6 

Conclusion 



On 26 Auiiust 1^)76 Susan Cjkispcll was named [o the K)wa Woman's Hall ot 
Fame, an honor that she would have appreciated but not overvalued. "Wc all want 
to make money and he successful, "" she told a repoiter for the New York Moniini^ 
Tc'li'i^raph in !'^)2I. "'It would be wonderful to he successful and expressive of 
one's belief, too. Some ha\e realized this. But as lo actual happiness I do not think 
it lies in the achie\ement o\' popular success alone. It wtiuld not bring happiness 
tome."' 

Although she prolessed not to aim at the commerical market. Susan Glaspell 
became well known during her lifetime as a writer of popular fiction. The pages 
of her nt)\els are filled w ith situations that seem designed to evoke stock emotional 
responses: suicide attempts, seductions, illegitimate childbiiths. mental break- 
downs, extramarital affairs. Vet hers is not a morbid or nihilistic point of view; 
love and truth are always victorious in her fiction, redeeming the desperate and 
vindicating the idealistic. Her plots sometimes seem improbable and contrived; 
often the language is effusive or stilted. Her worst novels. Norma Ashe and Fui^i- 
tivc'.s Rc'iuriK are flawed in construction and uneven in tone; in her best novels. 
Fidelity and Jiidcl Rankin's Daiii>hter. she transcends sentimentality and sen- 
sationalism, writing skillfully and convincingly of topical issues as well as more 
universal themes. The deficiencies in her fiction appear in some of her later novels 
as well as in her earlier works; consequently, it is difficult to determine whether 
the\ are an effect of the limitations o\' her talent or o\' a deliberate attempt to 
achieve easy success. 

Although her novels have often been criticized as melodramatic. Susan Glas- 
pell earned high praise as a psychological dramatist whose sensibility was finely 
attuned to the most subtle nuances of human interaction. 'Tf the surface of life 
changes by a hair's breadth, she not only knows it, but can convey it in words." 
said Ruth Hale in her review o\' The Verge. "She is a painter of those wisps of 
shadow that cross the soul in the dead of night."- Plays such as The Verge, Ber- 
nice, and Trifles are characterized by a relentless exploration of the characters' 
psyches; Susan Glaspell elucidates complicated motives and states of mind by 
dramatizing the outer manifestations of internal conflicts. That her protagonists 
are invariably women suggests her belief that the right to personhood and the de- 
velopment of one's individual potential should be denied to no one because of gen- 
der, as Isaac Goldberg recognized in his discussion of Susan Glaspell's work in 
The Drama ofTransition: 

As O'Neill inclines toward the mastcrtui man. so she leans toward the 



S4 SUSAN GLASPELL 



rebellious woman. . . . Glaspell then as a serious dramatist-one of the 
tew Americans whose progress is worth watching with the same eyes 
that follow notable European effort-is largely the playwright of 
woman's selfhood. That acute consciousness of self which begins with 
a mere sense of sexual differentiation (exemplified in varied fashion 
in Trifles. Woman's Honor. The Outside) ranges through a heightening 
social sense {The People. Close the Book. Inheritors) to the highest as- 
pirations of the complete personality, the individual (Bernice. The 
Veri>e). 1 would not be understood as implying that these plays exhibit 
solely the phases to which they are here related; all of Miss GlaspelTs 
labors are an admixture of these phases, as is the life of the thinking 
and feeling woman of today . And there is more than rebellious woman- 
hood in these dramas; there is consciousness of valid self, or of a pas- 
sion for freedom, of dynamic personality; there is craving for life in 
its innermost meaning. ^ 

Perhaps the contrast between her reputation as a popular novelist and as an 
innovative dramatist is a reflection of the conflict in Susan GlaspelTs mind be- 
tween her desire for commerical success and her commitment to experiment with 
new forms and convey her personal beliefs through her writing. "When 1 work 
I never think of anything else but what I want to express." she maintained. "I 
believe that is true of all writers of integrity. One can't be thinking of making a 
popular hit or of landing a commercial success if expressing the thing one believes 
and wishes to give form to. That is merely a natural law-one can't have one's 
ideas on anything else but the subject in hand. Yet 1 do have a sense of other people 
when I am writing my plays. Popular success-<)f course if one does succeed-well 
and good. No one scorns "getting over.' But that is not the main thing. ""^ 

Susan Glaspell 's weaknesses as a writer are easy to point out: her strengths 
are less readily perceived. Her penchant for the bizarre, the sensational, the senti- 
mental often mars what would otherwise be a well-crafted work of fiction, yet 
many critics have maintained that her plays are insufficiently dramatic, suggesting 
that the novel would be a more suitable medium for her talents. Whatever the 
faults of her writing, Susan Glaspell's works are well worth reading today. When 
read in order of composition, her works become a microcosm of the literary his- 
tory of America, reflecting such literary movements as transcendentalism, the re- 
volt from the village, the revolution in American drama, the proletarian novel. 
Works such as The Veri^e, Inheritors, Trifles, and Woituiii's Honor are of interest 
to the modern reader because they deal with such topical issues as feminism and 
the right of freedom of expression, but the themes that recur in her fiction and 
drama are those that are timeless in their appeal: the relation of the ailist to society. 
the contlict between idealism and pragmatism, the relation of the individual to 
native region, the contlict between the non-conformist and the society that de- 
mands conformity, the impingement of the past upon the present. Her treatment 
of these themes is often flawed in a way that is characteristic of less talented writ- 
ers, yet in other works she has created unique devices that functii)n well in convey- 



CONCLUSION iS5 



ing the subtleties of her thought. The ditTieuhy of assessing her place in American 
literature is compounded by these paradoxes; perhaps Ludwig Lewisohn has 
pointed out her most important contribution in his review of The Vcri^e: '"Other 
American dramatists may have more obvious virtues; they may reach larger audi- 
ences and enjoy a less wavering repute. Susan Glaspell has a touch of that vision 
without which we perish. "'~' 



Notes 



1. Introduction 

' Inscniitioii \vom Susan (ikispcll to LikluiLi l.cw isolm. l.iiduiLi l.cwisohn I'apcrs. 
I.ill\ l.ibrar\ . Iiuliaiia riii\cisit\ , Blooiniiiiiton. Iruliana. 

' l.cttci ta>iii Nila(\H)k. Munich Kirchcn. Austria. lOK'hruaiy 1^)76. 

' Harthoh)nic\\ C'raulord. '■Susan (ilaspcll." Pcilinipsei II (December 1930): 517- 
21. 

^ Susan (llaspell to V\o\\\ Dell. 17 September 1910. FKiyd Dell Papers. Newberry Li- 
braiA . Chicago. Illinois. 

' Letter from Nila Cook. lOFebruary 1976. 

'' Susan (ilaspell. Inlicniois (Boston: Small. Maynard and Ct)mpany. I92I ). p. 1.54. 

Ralph Waldo Hmerson. ■■Nature. "■ in h.yscns of Ralph Waldo Eiucrson (New York; 
A.S. Barnes & Company. 1944). p. .\^X. 

^ John Chamberlain. ■"A TragiComed\ o^ Idealism in Miss Glaspell's Novel," New 
York Times Hooks Review. 12 April 19.^1 . p. 4. 

2. Iowa Heritage 

' Susan Cdaspell. "■Here is the piece. . .."" Susan Gla.spell Papers, Berg Collection. 
New \'ork Public Library . 

^ lnter\ iew uith Margaret Hudson. Davenport. Iowa, 22 March 1976. 

Charles .August Fieke. Memories of Foitrseore Years (Davenport. Iowa: Graphic 
Services. 19.^0). p. 19S. 

^ "London Bars Her Acting in Own Play." Daveiipori Demoerai, 22 January 1932, 

p.S. 

Susan Glaspell. unpublished essay. Susan Glaspell Papers, Berg Collection, New 
York Public Library. 

" Alice Glaspell to Susan Glaspell, 24 February 1909. Susan Glaspell Papers, Berg 
Collection, New York Public Library. 

^ Trideni. 30 July 1904, p. 17, Putnam Museum, Davenport. Iowa. 

*^ ""StK-ial Life," Weekly Outlook 2, No. 5 ( 1897): 3-4. Putnam Museum, Davenport, 
Iowa. Although these columns did not carry Susan Glaspell's by-line, three pieces of evi- 
dence suggest that she may have written them: ( 1 ) She held the position of society editor 
at the time they were written; (2) There are similarities in style between these columns and 
the columns she did two years later for the Des Moines Daily News: (3) The columns cited 
in this chapter deal with the topic of woman's role in society, a topic she later developed 
more fully in her novels and plays. 

" '"Social Life." Weekly Oiiilook 3. No. 1 (1S97): 3. Putnam Museum. Davenport, 
Iowa. 



88 



SUSAN GLASPELL 



'" HIi/abcth McCullough Bray, •'Panorama iit Cultural Development Here in Last Halt 
\iCciM\xxy ." Davcupori Democrat. 31 March 1929. p. 4. 

" Unidentified newspaper clipping. Susan Glaspell Papers. Berg Collection. New 
York Public Library. 

'- Gladys Denny Schultz, "Susan Glaspell, "" in A Book of Iowa Auihors h\ Iowa Au- 
thors, ed. Johnson Brigham (Dcs Moines: Iowa State Teachers Association, 19.^0). p. 112. 

' ^ • 'The News Girl,' " Dcs Moines Daily News, 4 April 1 900. p. 4. 

'■^ "The NcwsGwl." Dcs Moines Daily News. 16June 19(M). p. 4. 

'■^ Twentieth Century Authors, cd. Stanley J. Kunit/and Howard Haycrot't (New York: 
H. W. Wilson Company, 1942), p. 541 . 

"' Susan Glaspell. "The Man of Flesh and Blood. "" Harper's Mat^azine lOH (May 
1904): 960. 

'' Ibid., p. 9.57. 

' '^ Des Moines Daily News. 3 May 1 903 , p. 7 . 

'" Ibid. 

-" Su.san Glaspell, "At the Turn of the Road." The Speaker 2 { 1906): 359. 

-' Ibid., p. 361. 

-- Trident. 30 July 1904, p. 17. Putnam Museum. Davenport. Iowa. 

-^ Julie Jensen. "Davenport-Rich. Robu.st History. "" Quad City Times. 4 July 1976, 
p.3E. 

-"^ Diary of George Cram Cook, 10 November 1909, George Cram Cook Papers, Berg 
Collection, New York Public Library. 

-^ Susan Glaspell, The Road to the Temple {New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 
1927). p. 191. 

-'' Dell came to Davenport from Quincy, Illinois, around 1903. Hcdroppcdout of high 
school, got a job in a candy factory, and joined the staff of the Davenport Times and the 
Tri-Cily Worker. He was encouraged to develop his writing talent by Davenport librarian 
Marilla Freeman, poet-journalist Charles Eugene Banks, and George Cram Cook. Soon 
he became the nucleus of a political-literary group that met at the Cook estate. Later Dell. 
Cook, and Susan Glaspell, along with Arthur Davison Ficke and Alice French, a writer 
of an older generation who wrote under the name of Octave Thanet, came to be kni-»wn 
as the "Golden Group." Sometimes other Davenport writers such as the biographer 
Charles Edward Russell and the poet Marjorie Allan Seiftert are included in discussions 
of the Davenport literary coterie, although their connection with the other five writers is 



George Cram Cook to Mollie Price, 26 November 1907. George Cram Cook Papers. 
Berg Collection, New York Public Library. 

'"^ George Cram C\)ok to Mollie Price. 1 7 December 1 907. George Cram Cook Papers. 
Berg Collection. Nev\ Yi)rk Public Library. 

LMiiilciitilied newspaper clipping, Susan Cilaspell tile, Putnam Museum. Davenpi>rt. 



NOTES 89 



It>vva. 

'*' Nc'wYorkTimcs. 1 3 March 1909. p. 145. 

" •■MissGlaspcll BdckY'wmPdris," Davcnpori DcnKn nil .^ ii\nc 1909. p. 8. 

'' Alice Glaspcll to Susan Glaspcll. 24 February 1909. Susan (ilaspell Papers. Berg 
Collection. New York Public Library. 

'' KImer Glaspell to Susan Glaspcll. 2^ October 1897. Susan Glaspcll Papers. Berg 
Collection. New York Public Library. 

^"^ Susan Glaspcll took a tongue-in-cheek attitude toward tiie situation in """Finality" 
in Frccport."" which was published by the Picloricil Review in July o\' 1916. Other 
'■precport"" stories are ""Piior Fd."" "Miss Jessie's Trip Abroad." ""The Fscapc."" ""Be- 
loved Husband." ""The Manager o\' Crystal Sulphur Springs." Although the use of a 
Davenport setting suggests the inHuence of Alice French, the latter's "Fairport" stories 
are much better-draw n pictures o\' Da\enport than are Susan Glaspell's stories, which give 
only a generalized sense of locale. 

- GhyspcW. Road lotlu'Tcmi'lc, p. 193. 

-" George Cram Cook to Fknd Dell. n.d.. Floyd Dell Papers. Newberry Library. 
Chicago. 

" Ibid. 

^^ Floyd Dell. Homecoming,: An Antohioi^niphy (New York: Farrar and Rinchart. 
1933). p. 205. 

'" The Rabbi Fincschrciber to Floyd Dell. 1 1 October 1910. Floyd Dell Papers. New- 
berry Library. 

^' George Cram Cook io Floyd Dell . 1 2 September 1 9 10. Floyd Dell Papers, Newberry 
Library. 

■*' It is difficult to determine Susan Glaspcirs whereabouts from the spring of 191 I 
until her marriage to Jig Cook in April of 1913. Floyd Dell and Margaret Anderson report 
that she was in Chicago during this time but are vague as to actual dates. In an undated 
letter to Sherwood Anderson, a key figure in the Chicago Renaissance, Susan Glaspell re- 
fers to their talks in Chicago but does not give a date. Other sources report that she and 
Lucy Huffakcr took a flat in Milligan Place, Greenwich Village during the period that she 
and Jig were separated. Susan Glaspell's obituary in the Fiovincctown Advocate states that 
she had resided in Provincetown since 1912. 

"*- Ji)hnson Brigham. Iowa: lis Hisioix and lis Foremosl Citizens {C\\\c,.\pr. S.J. Clarke 
Publishing Company. 191.'S).p. 700. 

3. Provincetown Years 

' Susan Glaspell. The Road lo ihe I'emple (New "V'ork; Frederick A. Stokes Company, 
1927), p. 2.50. 

- Susan Glaspell. f/(/vs( Boston: Small. Maynard and Company. 1920). p. 245. 

The Washington Square Players, which later became the Theater Guild. v\;is formed 
in 1914 in the Washington Square Bookshi)p by members o\ the adjacent Lib.ral Club. 
The members of this theater group planned to ctMiipcte w ith the Broadway stage by produc- 



go SUSAN GLASPF.LL 

in<a drama classics by Ibsen. Strindhorg, Shakespeare, and other renowned dramatists. By 
ccintrast. the F'rovincctown Players were interested in plays that wore experimental and un- 
usual. When l.awrcnce Langner. one ot the founders of the Washington Square Players, 
wanted to put on one of his own plays, he went to the Provincetown Players rather than 
to the Washington Square Players. 

"* Susan (liaspeil.//;/k'///^^/-.v(Bt>ston; Small, Maynard and Company. 1921 ). p. 111. 
'' SusanGlaspell. licU'ln\(\^os\on. Small. Maynard and CtMiipany. \^)\5). p. 17X. 
" Ibid., p. 179. 
^ Ibid., p. 136. 

•"^ --Recent Reflections o\ a Novel Reader, "■ Ailaiuiv Moiuhlx I 16 (October I9I5): 
505. 

'' Dial. 1 5 July 1915. p. 66. 

'" GVds^cW, Road l,nhc Temple .\). 253. 

" Susan Glaspell, "Here is the piece. . . ,"" Susan Glaspcll Papers, Berg Collection. 
New York Public Library. 

'- Glaspell, P/m-.v, p. 8. 

" Ibid, p. 27. 

'•* Ibid., p. 29. 

" Ibid. .p. 19. 

"' G\.\'s\)c\\.Roadu>lheTcinpU\\). 256. 

'^ Sinclair Lewis, Our Mr. Wrenn (New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1914), 
inscription in Susan GlaspelTs copy. Berg Collection. New York Public Library. 

"-^ Unidentified clipping. SusanGlaspell file, Putnam Museum, Davenport, Iowa. 

''' G\<ispc\\, Road to the Temple, p. 235. 

-*' Interview with NillaCook, Mcinich Kirchen, Austria. 3 March 1 976. 

"' Arthur Waterman, -- A Critical Study of Susan Glaspell's Works and Her Contribu- 
tions to Modern American Drama" (Ph.D. diss. University of Wisconsin. 1956), p. 93. 
Mr. Waterman's dissertation, while invaluable to Glaspell scholars, is somewhat incom- 
plete because it was published six years before the bulk of Susan Glaspell's papers were 
acquired by the New York Public Library. 

'^ G\iispd\,Road lollie Temple, p. 324. 

'^ Hutchins Hapgood. A Victorian in the Modern World (New York; Hareourt. Brace 
andCompany. 1939). p. 376. 

" Fk)yd Dell, Hoinecominii: An Aiiiohioi^raphx (New York; Larrar and Rinehart, 
1933). p. 26S. 

"'' G]Aspc\\, Road to the Temple, p. 247. 

As quoted in Albert Parry, Garrets and Pretenders-A History of Bohemianism in 
/\/m'/7c<i (New York: Civici-Friede, 1933). p. 281 . 

"'' As quoted in Sheaffer, O'Neill. Son and Playwrii^ht , ('ioston: Little. Brown and 



NOTES 91 



C'lmipain ). p. 401 . 

-■^ W illiain /AM-ach. An Is \l\ Life (Nou \o\\. Worki PuhlishiiiL; C\)mpan\ . I') i?). 
p. 47. 

-"' Jacques C'opcau. Speech to the \\ ashiiv^ton Square Players. ■"'Ihe Spirit in the Little 
Theater." ■ 20 April 1^)17. pri\ate coIIccikmi oI Mine. Marie-Hclene Daste. In their book 
The ri(>\iin I'lduii. Helen Deulseh and Stella Hanau report that Copeau saw a perlornianee 
onnhcriiors in uhich Susan Glaspell played Madeline and praised her pertorniance in a 
lectine he i:a\e the next da\ . Ho\\e\er. Norman H. Paul reports that the perlornianee that 
Copeau saw was ol Tlw People. In a |ournal entr\ of 4 .April l')17 (tour years before //;- 
heniors was produced for the first time). Copeau referred to Susan CilaspelTs performance 
and reterred to it ajiain m a speech he ga\e three weeks later. At this time Susan Glaspell 
was pla> ms: the w onian Irom Idaho in I'he People. 

"' As quoted in Robert Humphre\. ""Children of Fantas\ : The Rebels of Greenwich 
Village. iyiO-1920" (i'h.D. diss. CniversitN of Iowa. 147?). p. 166. Several members 
of the Pro\incetoun Pla>ers not pre\iousl\ mentioned are referred to in this letter. "The 
MacDougals"" are Allan and Alice MaeDougai. ""Nord" is Bror Nordfcid, and "Teddy" 
is H. J. Ballatine. All of these people had acted in productions of the Provincetown Players, 
some serving in other capacities as well. See Appendix B in Deutsch and Hanau " s T/jc P/v;- 
vineelown. 

'' As quoted in Clarence Andrews, A Llterciry Hi.siorv of I own (Iowa City: University 
of Iowa Press. 1972). p. 93. 

"*" Glaspell. Inheritors, p. 6. Susan Glaspell used the surnames of two historic Daven- 
port families in this play. The Mortons, like the Cooks and the Glaspells, were Scott County 
pioneer settlers, and Nicholas Fejevary. a wealthy Hungarian nobleman, had tied to Daven- 
port during the 1 K40s after supporting the revolution in his homeland. 

'' Ibid., p. 22. 

■^ Ibid., p. 42. 

■'-' Ibid., p. 53. 

■"' Ibid., p. 146. 

'^ As quoted in Gerhard Bach, -"Susan Glaspell (1882-1948): A Bibliography of 
Dramatic Criticism." Great Lakes Review, p. 10. W. H. S.. "Another Play," New York 
EveiJiiiii Post, 8 March 1927, p. 14. 

^^ Liverpool Dail\ Post and Mereury, 18 September 1925, Susan Glaspell Papers, 
Berg Collection, New York Public Library. 

^'' Illustrated Lonihni News. 1 1 April 1925, p. 644, Susan Glaspell Papers, Berg Col- 
lection. New York Public Library. 

'^' Alice Rohe, ""The Story of Susan Glaspell," New York Mornini> Lelei^raph. 18 De- 
cember 1921, Susan Glaspell Papers. Barrett Library, University of Virginia Library, 
ChariottesN iile. Virginia. 

^' Louise Morgan, ""Susan Glaspell of New England," Everyman, 1 January 1932, 
p. 784, Susan Glaspell Papers, Berg Collection, New York Public Library. 

"*- Susan Glaspell, ""Chains of Dew," [unpublished typescript). The Library of Con- 



92 



SUSAN GLASPELL 



gicss. Washington. DC. Act I. p. 14. 

^' Ibid.. Act III. p. 29. 

^ Ibid.. Act III. p. IS. 

^^ As quoted in Bach. "Susan GlaspcII (1882-1948). " p. 15. Hcywood Broun. 
• -Driimn:- New York W(>rUL2>^Apv\\ 1 922. p. II. 

^" Susan GlaspcII to Hdna Kenton. 29 May | I922|. Susan GlaspcII Papers. Barrett Li- 
brary. University of Virginia Library. 

4. Horizons Expand 

' Edmund Wilson, "Bcppo and Beth." in This Room and This Gin and These 
Sandwiches (New York: New Republic. 1937). p. 288. 

- Helen Deutsch and Stella Hanau. The Provinceiown: A Slory of the Theaier (New 
York: Farrarand Rinchart, 193 1), p. x. 

^ George Cram Cook to Hdna Kenton, n.d.. Susan GlaspcII Papers. Banett Library, 
University ot'Virginia Library. Charlottesville, Virginia. 

^ Susan GlaspcII to Edna Kenton, I I May 1 1922|, Susan GlaspcII Papers, Barrett Li- 
brary, University of Virginia Library. 

' Susan Glaspell to Alice GlaspcII, 1 2 June 1922, Susan GlaspcII Papers, Berg Collec- 
tion, New York Public Library. 

" Susan GlaspcII to Alice GlaspcII, 28 September 1922. Susan Glaspell Papers. Berg 
Collection. New York Public Library. 

^ George Cram Cook to Susan Glaspell, 13 February 1923, George Cram Cook Pa- 
pers, Berg Collection, New York Public Library. 

^ Nilla Cook, M.v/?r><;<//<'//;Jm( New York: Lee Furman. 1939), p. 19. 

'' Ibid., p. 41. 

'" George Cram Cook to Ida Rauh, n.d. . George Cram Cook Papers, Berg Collection, 
New York Public Library. A note that accompanies this letter indicates that it was never 
mailed. 

' ' Susan Glaspell to Alice Glaspell. 15 July 1923. Susan Glaspell Papers. Berg Collec- 
tion. New York Public Library. 

'" Hutchins Hapgood, A Victorian in die Modern Worhl (New York: Harctuirt. Brace 
and Company, 1939), p. 486. 

" lbitl..p.491. 

'"' Ibid., p. 499. 

'"" Susan Glaspell to Edna Kenton, 23 October 1923, by permission i>f the H(.>ughton 
Library, l!ar\ard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

"' Susan GlaspcII to \\. Eleant>r Fit/gerald, 25 May 1924, b\ pernussion ol' the 
Houghton Library 

" Susan (ilaspcll to M. I'lcanor Fit/gcrald, 31 May 1924, by pcrnnssion oi the 
llouiihton lihrarv. 



NOTES 93 



'^ Susan Glaspcll to Edna Kenton, 12 January [1925]. Susan Glaspcll Papers, Barrett 
Library, University of Virginia Library. 

''' Susan Glaspell to Edmund Wilson, 3 October 1945, Edmund Wilson Papers, Col- 
lection of American Literature, The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale 
University. New Haven, Connecticut. 

-*' Diary of Norman Matson, 22 November-23 December 1924, Susan Glaspell Papers, 
Berg Collection, New York Public Library. 

-' Hapgood, Victorian in the Modern World, p. 499. 

-- interview with Eben Given, Truro, Massachusetts. 22 June 1976. 

-^ Norman Matson to Susan GlaspeH, 25 October 1926, Susan Glaspell Papers, Berg 
Collection, New York Public Library. 

-"^ Susan Glaspell to Alice Glaspell. 24 November 1925. Susan Glaspell Papers. Berg 
Collection, New York Public Library. 

""^ Susan Glaspell to Norman Matson, October 1926, Susan Glaspell Papers, Berg Col- 
lection, New York Public Library. 

-*' Susan Glaspell to Norman Matson, n.d., Susan Glaspcll Papers. Berg Collection. 
New York Public Library. 

-'' Susan Glaspell to Norman Matson. n.d.. Susan Glaspell Papers. Berg Collection. 
New York Public Library. 

-^ Norman Matson to Susan Glaspell. n.d., Susan Glaspell Papers. Berg Collection. 
New York Public Library. 

-'^ Susan Glaspell to Norman Matson. n.d.. Susan Glaspell Papers. Berg Collection, 
New York Public Library. 

■^" Unidentified clipping, Susan Glaspcll file, Putnam Museum, Davenport, Iowa. 

"" Alice Glaspell to Susan Glaspcll, l6July 1928, Susan Glaspcll Papers, Berg Collec- 
tion, New York Public Library. 

^- Alice Glaspell to Susan Glaspcll. 19 November 1928. Susan Glaspell Papers. Berg 
Collection. New York Public Library. 

Norman Matson to Susan Glaspell. n.d.. Susan Glaspell Papers. Berg Collection. 
New York Public Library. 

^■^ Susan Glaspell. (holograph notebook). Susan Glaspell Papers. Berg Collection. 
New York Public Library. 

Ray Glaspell to Susan Glaspell, n.d., Susan Glaspell Papers. Berg Collection. New 
York Public Library. 

"*'' Mary Heaton Vorse. Time and the Town: A Trovimetown Chronicle (New York: 
Dial Press. 1942). p. 124. 

■^^ Susan Glaspell to Norman Matson. n.d.. Susan Glaspell Papers. Berg Collection. 
New York Public Library. 

^^ Susan had won prizes for oratory and fiction while in college and during the years 
she was engaged in free-lance writing in Davenport. In 1914 the Iowa Press and Authors 



94 SUSAN GLASPELL 



Association had invited her to be an honored guest at a "Homecoming of Iowa Authors." 
which she did not attend. In 1922 she served as a judge of a playwrighting contest for the 
University of California, along with Eugene O'Neill and George Jean Nathan, and served 
in a similar capacity in judging the University of Michigan's Hopwood Contest in 1937. 
Aside from her frequent appearance on best seller lists, however, the Pulitzer Prize was 
the first incidence of national recognition of Susan Glaspcll's talent. 

■^'^ Ward Morehouse. "Broadway After Dark." New York Sun, 9 May 1931. p. 30. 
Susan Glaspell Papers. Berg Collection, New York Public Library. 

"^' Charles Hanson Towne, "A Number of Things." New York American, 18 May 
1 93 1 . p. 3 1 . Susan Glaspell Papers, Berg Collection, New York Public Library. 

"^' J. Brooks Atkinson, "Pulitzer Laurels," New York Times. 10 May 1931, sec. 8, 
p. 1 , Susan Glaspell file, Putnam Museum. 

■^- Edmund Wilson, The Twenties (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1975), p. 
385. 

^' Susan Glaspell, /l//,sY;/;'.s//o/rsf (New York: Samuel French, 1930), p. 37. 

^ Ibid., p. 154. 

"^-"^ Boston EveniniJ Globe, 27 October 193! . Susan Glaspell Papers. Berg Collection. 
New York Public Library. 

"^ Louise Morgan. "Susan Glaspell of New England," Everyman 7 January 1932, p. 
783, Susan Glaspell Papers, Berg Collection, New York Public Library. 

^'^ Ibid. 

'^'^ Susan Glaspell to Norman Matson, 7 May 1932, Susan Glaspell Papers, Berg Col- 
lection, New York Public Library. 

""'^ Susan Glaspell to Norman Matson, n.d., Susan Glaspell Papers, Berg Collection. 
New York Public Library. 

'^" Susan Glaspell to Norman Matson. n.d.. Susan Glaspell Papers. Berg Collection. 
New York Public Library. 

'^' Norman Matson to Susan Glaspell. n.d.. Susan Glaspell Papers. Berg Collection. 
New York Public Library . 

^- Norman Matson to Susan Glaspell. 8 September 1932. Susan Glaspell Papers, Berg 
Collection, New York Public Library. 

Susan Glaspell to Anna Walling, n.d., Susan Glaspell Papers, Berg Collection, New 
York Public Library. 

5. Years Alone 

' As quoted in Rod W. Horton and Herbert W. Edwards, Backgrounds of American 
Literary Thought (New York: Meredith Publishing Company, 1967), p. 43 1 . 

"^ Susan Glaspell to Elmer Glaspell, n.d., Susan Glaspell Papers, Berg Collection, 
New York Public Library. 

Nonnan Matson to Susan Glaspell, n.d., Susan Glaspell Papers, Berg Collection, 
New York Public Library. 



NOTES 95 



"* Susan Glaspcll. "Here is (he pieee. . . ." Susan Giaspell Papers, Berg Colleelion. 
New York Public Library. 

"" Inter\ iew with Dorothy Meyer. New York City. 29 February 1 976. 

^' Louise Morgan. "Susan Glaspcll of New England." Everyman. 7 January 19.^2. 
p. 784. SusanGlaspell Papers. Berg Collection. New York Public Library. 

^ Inter\ iew w ith Dorothy Meyer. New York City. 29 February 1 976. 

*^ Letter tVoin NilaCook. 10 February 1976. Monich Kirchen. Austria. 

'' A. D. Crews, "Susan Glaspcll and the Federal Theater."' Norlhweslern Univcrsily 
InfonmitioiK 15 April 1937.: p. 3. Susan Glaspcll Papers. Berg Collection, New York Pub- 
lic Library. 

'" Ibid. 

" John McGec to Hallie Flanagan, 10 November 1936, National Office Subject File 
of the Federal Theater Project, letters of Susan Glaspcll, director of Midwest Play Bureau, 
Record Group 69, National Archives Building. 

'^ Letter from Don Farran. 26 July 1977, Rowan, Iowa. 

'^ SusanGlaspell, George Kondolf, and John McGee, 6 November 1936, National Of- 
fice Subject File of the Federal Theater Project, letters of Susan Giaspell. director of Mid- 
west Play Bureau, Record Group 69, National Archives Building. 

'•* Susan Glaspcll to E. C. Mabie, 29 October 1936, E. C. Mabic Papers. Special Col- 
lections. University of Iowa. lowaCity. 

'■'' Crews, "SusanGlaspell and the Federal Theater," p. 3. 

'^ Ibid. 

'^ Susan Giaspell to Hallie Flanagan, 7 September 1937, National Office Subject File 
of the Federal Theater Project, letters of Susan Giaspell, director of the Midwest Play Bu- 
reau. Record Group 69, National Archives Building. 

'*^ Susan Glaspcll to Hallie Flanagan, 17 September 1937, National Office Subject File 
of the Federal Theater Project, letters of Susan Giaspell, director of the Midwest Play Bu- 
reau, Record Group 69, National Archives Building. 

''^ Emmet Lavery to Howard Miller, 8 November 1937, National Office Subject File 
of the Federal Theater Project, letters of Susan Giaspell, director of the Midwest Play Bu- 
reau, Record Group 69, National Archives Building. 

-'* Susan Giaspell to Howard Miller, 5 November 1937, National Office Subject File 
of the Federal Theater Project, letters of Su.san Giaspell, director of the Midwest Play Bu- 
reau, Record Group 69, National Archives Building. 

-' Susan Glaspcll to Hallie Flanagan, 18 April 1938, National Office Subject File of 
the Federal Theater Project, letters of Susan Glaspcll, director of the Midwest Play Bureau, 
Record Group 69. National Archives Building. 

~~ Mary Heaton Vorse, Time and the Town: A Provincetown Chronicle (New York: 
Dial Press, 1942), p. 262. 

-^ Morgan, "Susan Giaspell of New England," p. 784. 



96 SUSAN GLASPELL 

-"^ LetterfroniLangstonMoffctt, 14 July 1976, St. Augustine, Florida. 

-■^ JntcrviewwithDorothy Meyer, New York City, 29 February 1976. 

-^ Ibid. 

-^ Ibid. 

-'^ Interview with Ebcn Given, Truro, Massachusetts, 22 June 1 976. 

-"^ Interview with Martha Robinson, Provincctown, Massachusetts, 23 June 1976. 

^" Interview with Dorothy Meyer, New York City, 29 February 1976. 

" Ibid. 

^- Interview with Martha Robinson, Provincctown, Massachusetts, 23 June 1976. 

^^ Interview with Dorothy Meyer, New York City, 29 February 1976. 

'^ Ibid. 

'' Ibid. 

■^^ "Books," N^vv YorkHeraklTrihune, 3 1 March 1940, p. 22. 

-" Susan Glaspell, "The Huntsmen Are Up in America," Susan Glaspell Papers, Berg 
Collection, New York Public Library. 

^^ "Susan Glaspell Says We Need Books Today As Never Before," Chicago Sunday 
Tribune, 6 December 1942, Susan Glaspell Papers, Berg Collection, New York Public Li- 
brary . 

^'^ Susan Glaspell to George Sievers, 7 September 1942, Susan Glaspell Papers, Berg 
Collection, New York Public Library. 

"**' Unidentified clipping, Susan Glaspell Papers, Berg Collection, New York Public 
Library. 

'^' Susan Glaspell, "Here is the piece. . . ," Susan Glaspell Papers, Berg Collection, 
New York Public Library. 

"*- Davenport Times. 8 April 1 94 1 . p. 5 . 

'^^ Susan Glaspell to Edmund Wilson, 3 October 1945, Edmund Wilson Papers, Col- 
lection of American Literature, The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale 
University, New Haven, Connecticut. 

■^ Susan Glaspell, Judd Rankin s Daughter (New York: J. B. Lippincott Company, 
1945), p. 84. 

•*' Ibid., p. 83. 

^' Ibid., p. 56. 

■^'^ Ibid., p. 54. 

■'*' Ibid, p. 202. 

Susan Glaspell to Lawrence Langner, n.d.. Theater Guild Papers. Collection o\ 
American Literature, The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. 

^" ThealerCiuild to Susan Glaspell, 19 May 1944 (carbon copy). TheaterGuild Papers, 
Collection ot American Literature. The Beinecke Rare B(H>k and Manuscript Library, Yale 



NOTES 97 

University. 

""' Iiitcr\ic\v with NillaCoc^k, Monich Kirchcn, Austria. 3 March 1976. 

'^■' Lcttcrt'rom l.aniistiMi MolTctt. l4,!Lily 1M76. St. Augustine, I'ldrida. 

-' Interview with Sinus Cook. New York City. 28 hehruary 1976. 

"""^ lnter\iew with Catharine Huntington. Boston, Massachusetts, 24 June 1976. 

- ProvinccunynAdviHctW. I I July 1946, p. 5. 

■'" Proviiwcunvn Advocalc.l^) h\\\ 1948. p. 1. 

■'^ /'/vn7/;(r/r;u7MJim<//('.28March 1946,p. I. 

""^ lnter\iew with EbcnGivcn. 22 June 1976. 

^" Ibid. 

"' Provimcumn Advocalc.l^ ]\i\) 1948. p. 1. 

''' Letter from l,angston MotTett. 14 July 1976. 

6. Conclusion 

' Alice Rohe, ""The Story of Susan Glaspell."' New York Mornini" Telciiiaph, 1 8 De- 
cember 1921 . Susan Glaspell Papers. Barrett Library. University of Virginia Library. 

- As quoted in Gerhard Bach. --Susan Glaspell (1882-1948); A Bibliography of 
Dramatic Criticism. "" Crccil I.iikc.s Review, forthcoming, p. II (mimeographed), Ruth 
Hale. •■Concernmg the Verge." " ,\Vm- York Times. 20 November 1921 , sec. vi. p. 3. 

' Isaac Goldberg. The Drama ofTninsiiion (Cincinnati: Stuart Kidd Company, 1922), 
p. 474. 

"^ Rohc. --Story of Susan Glaspell. ■■ 

' Ludwig Lewisohn. -- Drama- //;<' Veri^e,'' Nalio,, 1 I 3 ( 14 December 1921 ): 708-09.