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Susan Glaspell Biography

Trifles: A Play in One Act

Susan Glaspell   (1882-1948)

Susan Glaspell grew up in Davenport, Iowa, where she was born in 1882. Glaspell began her career as an author of sentimental short stories for popular magazines. By 1915, she had turned her energies to the theater, becoming one of the founders of the Provincetown Players, a group that worked with experimental drama. In 1916, Glaspell moved to Greenwich Village in New York with the theater company- which had changed its name to the Playwright's Theater. She played an important role with the group as a writer, a director, and an actor. This theater group came to have a major influence on the way American drama developed. She worked with them for two seasons. Trifles was written to be performed with a group of one-act plays by Eug ene O'Neill at the company's summer playhouse. She wrote other, longer plays that also have a feminist perspective. They are The Verge - which was written in 1921 - and Allison's House , which she wrote in 1931. The later is a Pulitzer Prize–winnin g drama based upon the life of Emily Dickinson: a very famous American poet. All in all, Glaspell wrote more than forty short stories, twenty plays, and ten novels. Her best works deal with the theme of the "new woman," presenting a hero who r epresents the American pioneer spirit of independence and freedom. She was one of the first feminists in the theater. Susan Glaspell died in 1948.

Questions for listening comprehension

1. When was Susan Glaspell born? 1882
2. Where were her first stories printed?
a. in newspapers b. on the Internet
c. in magazines d. in a book of short stories

3. When did she begin to work in the theater?
a. 1915 b. 1951
c. 1916 d. 1921

4. Which of these did Glaspell NOT do in the company?
a. write b. produce
c. direct d. act

5. For how long did Glaspell work with the Playwright's Theater? 2 seasons

6. Who was Emily Dickinson?
a. an actor b. a playwright
c. a poet d. a director

7. Which play is about the life of Emily Dickinson?
a. Trifles b. The Verge
c. Allison's House d. Pulitzer Prize

8. How old was Glaspell when she died? 66 years old

9. Which words describe Susan Glaspell according to the passage?
Þ a. director
__ b. mother
Þ c. feminist
__ d. authoritarian
__ e. democrat
Þ f. author
__ g. politician
Þ h. actress

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