Local Authors in Special Collections

Special Collections is home to a number of books by two important local authors: Arthur Davison Ficke and Susan Glaspell. Although these names many no longer be familiar to many, in the first half of the twentieth century, they were widely read and well known.

Arthur Davison Ficke (1883-1945) was born in Davenport, where his parents were important members of the community. After graduating from Harvard, Ficke went to law school and was admitted to the Iowa bar, but he was more interested in writing poetry than anything else. His first book, From the Isles, was published in 1907. In addition to poetry, Ficke also wrote drama, short stories, treatises on Japanese art, and one novel. Ficke is perhaps best known today for Spectra, a book he wrote with Witter Bynner.  A satire on modern experimental verse, it claimed to start the Spectric school of poetry.

Susan Glaspell (1882-1948) was also born in Davenport, which, disguised under the name of Freeport, became the setting for a number of her stories. After graduating from college, she worked for a Des Moines newspaper, where one of the stories she covered because the basis for her best-known work, the story “A Jury of Her Peers.” Glaspell was also a founding member of the Provincetown Players, a group of writers and actors who would include both Eugene O’Neill and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Glaspell wrote 50 short stories, fourteen plays, and nine novels, and recieved the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1931 for her play Alison’s House.

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