Sophie Treadwell Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Sophie Anita Treadwell was born in 1885 to Alfred B. and Nettie Fairchild Treadwell. When Sophie was five, her father moved to San Francisco. During her childhood, she and her mother sometimes lived with her father, sometimes not. She attended the University of California at Berkeley from 1902 to 1906. There she was involved in theater and, despite struggles with poverty and illness, graduated with a bachelor of letters degree with an emphasis in French.

Following her graduation, Treadwell moved to Los Angeles, where she performed in vaudeville. In 1908 her friend Constance Skinner, who had been a drama critic, arranged for Treadwell to type the memoirs of actress Helena Modjeska. It was Modjeska who encouraged Treadwell’s ambitions to be a dramatist. Also in 1908, Treadwell began her career as a journalist at the San Francisco Bulletin.

In 1910 she married noted journalist and sports reporter William O. McGeehan. After her marriage, she retained her maiden name and continued her active participation in the movement for women’s suffrage. She wrote frequently on women’s issues, and one of her serials, “How I Got My Husband and How I Lost Him,” was adapted for the stage and produced under the title An Unwritten Chapter in San Francisco in 1915.

Treadwell was an accredited war correspondent during World War I, one of the first American women to serve in such a capacity. She spent four months in France in 1915, writing for the San Francisco Bulletin and Harper’s Weekly. During the war, she also continued to write plays, including Claws, produced in a 1918 showcase.

During the 1920’s Treadwell used information from her...

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(Drama for Students)

Sophie Treadwell, an early-twentieth century expressionistic playwright, is one of the United States’s most under-recognized female writers...

(The entire section is 554 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Bywaters, Barbara L. “Marriage, Madness, and Murder in Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal.” In Modern American Drama and the Female Canon, edited by June Schlueter. Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1990. A critical analysis of Machinal from a feminist perspective.

Dickey, Jerry. Sophie Treadwell: Research and Production Sourcebook. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997. A comprehensive research resource, including a production history of each of the twelve Treadwell plays that had been produced by 1995.

Heck-Rabi, Louise. “Sophie Treadwell: Agent for Change.” In Women in American Theatre, edited by Helen Krich Chinoy and Linda Walsh Jenkins. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1987.