A Jury of Her Peers
Susan Keating Glaspell was born on July 1st, 1876 in Davenport, Iowa.
Glaspell, a precocious child, was an active student at Davenport High School. By 18 she was earning a salary at the local newspaper as a journalist, and by 20 she was the author of a weekly 'Society' column.
At 21 she enrolled for Philosophy at Drake University, in Des Moines, where she excelled in debate competitions, and represented them at the state tournament.
After graduation, Glaspell again worked as a reporter, still a rare position for a woman, and assigned to cover the state legislature and murder cases.
At 24, after covering the conviction of a woman accused of murdering her abusive husband, Glaspell abruptly resigned and returned to Davenport, and a career writing fiction. Her stories were published by periodicals, including Harper's and Munsey's.
In 1909, moving to Chicago she wrote her debut novel, ‘The Glory of the Conquered’. It was a best-seller. So too her 2nd and 3rd and to glowing reviews.
With her husband Glaspell founded the Provincetown Playhouse for plays that reflected contemporary issues. Her first play, ‘Trifles’ (1916), was based on the murder trial she covered as a young reporter and later adapted as the short story ‘A Jury of Her Peers’. She wrote 12 plays over 7 years for the company. By 1918 Glaspell was considered one of America's most significant new playwrights. Despite its success theatre work did not make financial sense and she continued to submit short stories in order to support her and her husband during their years with the theater.
In 1931 her play, ‘Alison's House’, received the Pulitzer Prize. She continued to write and now with themes increasingly based on her surroundings, on family life, and on theistic questions.
Susan Keating Glaspell died of viral pneumonia in Provincetown, Massachusetts on 28th July 1948.