Part of the American
History & Genealogy Project
Women Playwrights and Authors
At the organization of the Woman's
Playwright Club, of New York City, there were forty women
eligible for admission. This vocation for women is especially an
American institution. In no other country are there so many who
have obtained recognition in a field where the compensation is
the same for women as for men. The New Theatre when opened made
its bow to the public with a play from the pen of an American
Biographies of Playwrights and Authors
Mary Hunter Austin, the
newest woman dramatist, has spent the greater part of her life
in the West, and many of her plays deal with the border life.
Margaret Mayo is another successful playwright,
who was the author of "Baby Mine" and "Polly of the
Circus," two of the biggest New York successes. In private
life Miss Mayo is the wife of Edgar Selwyn, a successful writer
and playwright of distinction. He is the author of "The
Kate Douglas Wiggin, whose writings we are all
familiar with, dramatized her "Rebecca
of Sunnybrook Farm."
Charlotte Thompson made a most successful
dramatization of "The Awakening of Helena Richie," in
which Margaret Anglin starred.
Another successful playwright is the author of "The Nest Egg"
Anne Caldwell, who has been an actress, opera
singer, musician, composer, magazine and newspaper writer. The
music of "The Top of the World" is her composition,
Another talented writer of plays is Rida Johnson Young,
who in five years has successfully produced "Brown of
Harvard' "The Boys of Company B,' "Glorious
Betsey," "The Lottery Man," as well as two plays
for Chauncey Olcott. One of the New York successes, "Naughty
Marietta," was written by her, Victor Herbert writing the
music. Mrs. Young is the wife of Mr. James Young, leading man,
who has appeared with E. H. Sothern. He was formerly a newspaper
man on the staff of a daily newspaper of Baltimore, Md. Mrs.
Young before her marriage was Rida Johnson.
Lottie Blair Parker is another successful
professional woman, whose husband, Harry Doel Parker, attends
entirely to the production and the leasing of her plays. "Way
Down East," written in 1897, is still being played
throughout the country. "Under Southern Skies" is
another one from her pen. Among others by this same author are "A
War Correspondent," "The Lights of Home," a
dramatization of "The Redemption of David Corson," a
number of one-act plays, and a novel entitled "Homespun."
Miss Alice Ives, the author of "The Village
Postmaster," has done every phase of literary work, art
criticisms, music notes, deep articles for the Forum and similar
magazines, as well as some light verse. She has written ten
plays. "The Village Postmaster" was on the road for ten
successive seasons. Miss Ives wrote a clever one-act play, a
satire on women's clubs, introducing all the famous women
characters of popular plays. She is the first vice-president of
the Society of Women Dramatists, to which all these playwrights
The pioneer playwright of her sex is Miss Martha Morton.
Some dozen years ago, the New York World offered prizes for the
cleverest scenarios to be submitted under assumed names. It was
a general surprise when a woman secured one of the prizes. This
successful person was Miss Morton. Some of the most
distinguished American actors have appeared in her plays, the
best known of which are, "Brother John," "His
Wife's Father," and "A Bachelor's Romance," Miss
Morton was the first vice-president of the Society of Dramatic
Authors. Off the stage she is Mrs. Herman Conheim, and is one of
the most popular dramatists in New York City.
Another successful prize winner, who ultimately made this her
profession, was Mrs. Martha Fletcher Bellinger,
a graduate of Mount Holyoke. The title of her scenario was "A
Mrs. Mary Rider Mechtold, also a college woman
and successful winner of newspaper prizes, wrote her first plays
when she was still a student at the Chicago University. She is
the author of a clever play, "The Little Lady."
The thousand-dollar prize offered by the Shakespeare Memorial
Theatre in England a year or two ago was won by an American
woman, Josephine Preston Peabody. The contest
for the best play in English verse dealing with a romantic
subject was won by a graduate of Radcliffe. It is said that this
college has long been famous for its unusually clever plays, in
which its students take part.
Beulah Dix is also a graduate of Radcliffe. She
was author of "Hugh Gwyeth." She collaborated with
Evelyn Greenleaf in a number of successful
plays, "The Rose o' Plymouth Town," and "The Road
Another Radcliffe graduate, who has become a successful
playwright, is Agnes Morgan, who wrote "When
Two Write History."
Another is Rebecca Lane Hooper. Miss Hooper not
only stages these performances herself, but has often played
The exception to the rule of directors for theatrical
performances, which are usually men, is Miss Edith Ellis,
author of "Mary Jane's Pa," one of the most successful
plays produced She began her career as a child actress. She is
one of the few successful stage managers, and has frequently
strengthened lines in places and made a possible success from
what seemed an inevitable failure.
Rachel Crothers is another who supervises much
of the rehearsing of her own plays. She began her authorship of
plays while a teacher in the Wheatcroft School of Acting. Among
her plays are "The Coming of Mrs. Patrick," "Myself
Bettina," and "The Inferior Sex," which were
written for Maxine Elliott. "The Man on the Box" was
dramatized by Grace Livingston Furniss, who
with the late Abby Sage Richardson dramatized "The
Pride of Jennico." Since then she has written a number of
other plays, including, "Mrs. Jack," "The Colonial
Girl," and "Gretna Green."
Source: The Part Taken by Women in
American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle
Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.