Cover image for Susan Glaspell : a critical biography
Susan Glaspell : a critical biography
Ozieblo, Bárbara.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xiii, 345 pages : portraits ; 24 cm
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PS3513.L35 Z78 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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During her lifetime, playwright and novelist Susan Glaspell (1876-1948) was regarded as highly as Eugene O'Neill and Edith Wharton. Winner of the 1931 Pulitzer Prize for drama (for Alison's House ), she was cofounder of the Provincetown Players, the little theater that "discovered" O'Neill. Later, Glaspell was instrumental in introducing American drama to English audiences when her play The Verge was produced in London. Yet despite her many accomplishments, Glaspell is often overlooked in the standard histories of American theater. Now, Barbara Ozieblo returns this intriguing and important figure to the spotlight.

Ozieblo combines an engaging narrative of Glaspell's life with insightful analysis of her creative works. Rebelling early against the expectations imposed on women of her era, Glaspell grappled with the conflict between Victorian mores and feminist aspirations throughout her life. In Trifles , now recognized as a groundbreaking feminist drama, she explored the reasons for a woman's extreme response to her husband's demanding, authoritarian stance. Ozieblo also investigates Glaspell's relationship with dramatist George Cram Cook, exploring the scandal that surrounded their courtship and marriage as well as the life they led among the bohemians of Greenwich Village.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Because of her lack of self-appreciation, Susan Glaspell is an unremembered playwright and author, despite being admired during her lifetime. She was a woman of enormous talent, who chose to sublimate her attributes and give her all to the men in her life. She wrote a biography of her husband, George Cram Cook, with whom she cofounded a theater troupe called the Provincetown Players, in which she disregards the role she played in their enterprises. Yet Glaspell is best known for winning the 1931 Pulitzer Prize for her dramatic play Alison's House, and for bringing American plays to the British theater. Not much was known about Glaspell because she destroyed most of her personal correspondence; but Ozieblo, American literature and women's studies professor at the University of Malaga, successfully uses Glaspell's plays and the biographies of her friends and contemporaries to reconstruct the life of a gifted woman. --Julia Glynn

Library Journal Review

Ozieblo (American literature and women's studies, Univ. of M laga, Spain) presents Susan Glaspell (1876-1948) as a groundbreaking novelist and playwright who "grappled with the conflict between Victorian mores and feminist aspirations throughout her life." Through a critical analysis of Glaspell's works, Ozieblo tells the story of this cofounder of the Provincetown Players, who became an important force in the dynamic changes American drama underwent from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries. Especially prominent is the treatment of Glaspell's personal involvement with, and influence upon, other "greats" such as Sinclair Lewis and Eugene O'Neill. Similar to Eve Golden's Anna Held and the Birth of Ziegfeld's Broadway (LJ 4/1/00) in its exhaustive research and generous use of quotes from interviews and private correspondence, this is an important addition to the literature, presenting as it does a Pulitzer Prize-winning, highly influential character in the history of American theater who has often been overlooked. Recommended for theater history and women's studies collections.DLaura A. Ewald, Murray State Univ., KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Ozieblo (Univ. of Malaga, Spain) provides a sympathetic portrait of a woman best known for her widely anthologized feminist play Trifles (1916). Like so many famous writers, Glaspell destroyed her private papers, making the reconstruction of her life particularly difficult. Though some sections of the biography are thin as a result, Ozieblo still managed to produce an engaging, provocative, and highly readable account. She traces Glaspell's ancestry back to Plymouth Colony, covers her college years and her early experiences as a journalist, and examines her less-known works. The author also probes Glaspell's troubled marriage to George Cram Cook, founder of the Providence Players; documents her friendship with Eugene O'Neill; and explores her relationship with, and subsequent rejection by, her much younger lover Norman Matson, an aspiring writer. Though Ozieblo gives short shrift to the murder trial that inspired Trifles (readers wishing a fuller account of that event can turn to Susan Glaspell: Essays on Her Theater and Fiction, ed. by Linda Ben-Zvi, CH, Jan'96), this reviewer finds much to recommend this book, including some fabulous photographs, carefully documented notes, a generous bibliography, and a comprehensive index. Recommended for all academic libraries. D. D. Knight; SUNY College at Cortland