Susan Glaspell (1876-1948) was an American writer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and co-founder of the Provincetown Players, America’s first modern theater company. In her lifetime, she produced nine novels, fourteen plays and more than fifty short stories, although she is best remembered for having discovered Eugene O’Neill.
Born and raised in Iowa, Glaspell was working for a local newspaper by the age of eighteen, before entering Drake University. At the age of twenty-four she abandoned journalism in favor of fiction, with her work published in many of the leading magazines of the day. Her first novel, The Glory of the Conquered, appeared in 1909 and was a New York Times bestseller.
In 1913, she married George Cram Cook and together they move to Greenwich Village. The two of them founded the Provincetown Players, an independent theater company devoted to producing modern plays that reflected contemporary life. One of the earliest productions was her 1916 play Trifles, based on a murder case she had investigated as a reporter.
During the Great Depression, Glaspell was the Midwest Bureau Director for the Federal Theater Project, part of FDR’s Works Progress Administration (WPA), a federal program designed to keep people employed. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her 1931 play Alison’s House. She died as the result of complications from pneumonia in 1948 and is widely considered to be one of the greatest American playwrights of all time.