Susan Glaspell (1876–1948) was an American writer whose work includes journalism, drama, novels, and short stories. She graduated from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, at a time when few women attended college, and began writing short stories and working as a journalist for the Des Moines Daily News. It was as a twenty-four-year-old reporter for the paper that Glaspell covered the trial of Margaret Hossack, a woman accused of killing her husband. Glaspell later said that the events of this trial inspired the story that she first wrote as the play Trifles (1916) and later as the short story “A Jury of Her Peers.”

In 1901 Glaspell began to publish local-color stories in well-regarded magazines such as Harper’s, and her first novels debuted in 1909 and 1911. However, Glaspell is best known for her work in drama, not only as a playwright but as an actor and producer. With her husband George Cram Cook, a wealthy and progressive Iowan, she established the Provincetown Players in 1915. This organization, based in Provincetown, Massachusetts, brought together artists, writers, and actors to stage experimental plays.

The group moved to Greenwich Village in New York City late in 1916. At the time, Greenwich Village was becoming known for its bohemian lifestyle and nonconformist culture. Because Cook had gotten a divorce to marry Glaspell, a scandalous choice at the time, the couple felt less scrutinized and more at home in Greenwich Village. In addition, they were able to participate in discussions and activities with social reformers, feminists, and other activists.

After resettling in the Village, the Provincetown Players launched the careers of several well-known playwrights, including Eugene O’Neill, and of cutting-edge theatre designers and actors. Before the organization shuttered in 1927, it staged many of Glaspell’s full-length and one-act plays, including Trifles (1916), on which “A Jury of Her Peers” (1917) is based. Glaspell not only helped to direct the theatre and provide plays for its stage but also acted.

Glaspell and Cook moved to Greece in 1922. After Cook’s death a few years later, Glaspell returned to New York City and continued to write and publish plays and novels. Her drama Alison’s House, based on the life of poet Emily Dickinson, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1931. When Glaspell died in 1948, she merited a laudatory obituary in the New York Times, but shortly afterward, her work fell largely fell out of public view for a time. It was “rediscovered,” however, as research into early American feminist voices brought Glaspell and others back into the spotlight. Today, Trifles and “A Jury of Her Peers” are widely anthologized and read, and full-length scholarly works study Glaspell’s life and work.