A playwright, journalist, women's rights advocate, and novelist, Sophie Treadwell maintained a professional career that spanned close to sixty years, from the 1910s to 1970. She is considered today as one of America's most prominent women playwrights of the first half of the twentieth century.
Treadwell's foray into the theatre began as an actress in vaudeville and included early mentoring by the famed Polish actress Helena Modjeska. Author of forty plays, Treadwell was one of only a few women dramatists who also directed and produced many of her own works. Her best-known play, the 1928 expressionist drama Machinal, was produced with a young Clark Gable in the cast. Based loosely on a sensational murder trial in New York, Machinal has received numerous revivals in the past decade, most notably by the New York Shakespeare Festival, the Royal National Theatre in London and the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco.
She began her career as a journalist while attending the University of California at Berkeley. During World War I, the State Department recognized Treadwell as one of America's first accredited female foreign war correspondents. In the 1920s, she became the only American journalist granted an interview with Pancho Villa at his remote ranch following the Mexican Revolution. She was married to a fellow journalist, the renowned sportswriter William O. McGeehan.
Throughout her career, Treadwell divided her time between her family ranch in Stockton, California, New York, Connecticut, Europe and Mexico. She retired to the desert community of Tucson, Arizona, where her bequest of private papers, manuscripts, photographs, and correspondence is housed in the University of Arizona Library Special Collections.
Contributors to the Web site design and content:
Jerry Dickey is an Associate Professor of Theatre Arts at the University of Arizona. He is the author of Sophie Treadwell: a Research and Production Sourcebook and has published essays on Treadwell in The Cambridge Companion to American Women Playwrights, Theatre History Studies, Women & Theatre: Occasional Papers 4, and Speaking the Other Self: American Women Writers (U Georgia P, 1997).
Bonnie Travers is an Associate Librarian in Special Collections at the University of Arizona Library.
Gina Morrissey completed a MA in Theatre Arts at the University of Arizona in 2001.
Rick Fitzgerald is a graduate student in the School for Information Resources and Library Science program at the University of Arizona.
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This website has been developed by:
University of Arizona Department of Theatre Arts
and the University of Arizona Library Special Collections
©2001 Arizona Board of Regents. All rights reserved.