Born July 1, 1876, to Elmer S. and Alice Keating Glaspell, descendants of pioneer settlers, Susan Glaspell grew up in Davenport, Iowa, and attended public schools. She went to Drake University in Des Moines, receiving her B.A. in 1899. While in college, she began writing stories and published her first one in the Davenport Weekly Outlook in 1896. After graduation, she spent two years working for The Des Moines Daily News and other newspapers as a reporter covering the court and legislative beats. She returned in 1901 to Davenport determined to become a writer. Her early stories, published in popular magazines, and her first novel, the best-selling The Glory of the Conquered: The Story of a Great Love (1909), were escapist, romantic, and conventional in form.
In 1907, Glaspell met Floyd Dell, future writer and social critic; George Cram Cook, a socialist writer; and Cook’s feminist wife, Mollie. Cook and Dell established the Monist Society, a discussion group formulated to expose provincialism and to introduce avant-grade ideas to Davenport. Glaspell fell in love with Cook and encountered the disapproval of her friends and family. In 1909, in an attempt to end the affair, she traveled to Europe, using the royalties earned from her first novel.
On returning to the United States, she spent time in Colorado, Davenport, Chicago, and Greenwich Village. She also finished her second novel, The Visioning, which shows Cook’s influence in the seriousness of the issues it introduced—trade unions, evolution, and divorce, to name a few—and began a third, Fidelity (1915), which explores small-town life in the Midwest and examines the limits placed on women by traditional gender roles. In 1912, she published Lifted Masks, a collection of short stories based on her experiences as a reporter. She and Cook, who had divorced his second wife, were married on April 14, 1913, in Weehawken, New Jersey. As a result of being exposed to his ideas, she grew more...
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