Zona Gale

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Zona Gale
Zona Gale.jpg
Born(1874-08-26)August 26, 1874
Portage, Wisconsin, U.S.
DiedDecember 27, 1938(1938-12-27) (aged 64)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

Zona Gale (August 26, 1874 – December 27, 1938) was an American novelist, short story writer, and playwright. She became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1921.


Gale was born in Portage, Wisconsin, which she often used as a setting in her writing. She attended Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, and later entered the University of Wisconsin, from which she received a Bachelor of Literature degree in 1895, and four years later a master's degree.

After college, Gale wrote for newspapers in Milwaukee and New York City, for six years. "A visit to Portage in 1903 proved a turning point in her literary life, as seeing the sights and sounds of town life led her to comment that her 'old world was full of new possibilities.' Gale had found the material she needed for her writing, and returned to Portage in 1904 to concentrate full time on fiction."[1] She wrote and published there until her 1938 death, but made trips to New York.[1]

She published her first novel, Romance Island, in 1906, and began the very popular series of "Friendship Village" stories. In 1920, she published the novel Miss Lulu Bett, which depicts life in the Midwestern United States. She adapted it as a play, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1921.[1]

"In addition to her fiction writing, Gale was an active supporter of the La Follettes (Robert Sr., Robert Jr. and Philip) and progressive causes. She was an active member of the National Women's Party, and she lobbied extensively for the 1921 Wisconsin Equal Rights Law."[1] In the same year, she attended the founding meeting (in New York) of the Lucy Stone League and became a member of its Executive Committee.[2] Her activism on behalf of women was her way to help solve "a problem she returned to repeatedly in her novels: women's frustration at their lack of opportunities."[1]

In 1928 at the age of fifty-four she married William L. Breese, also of Portage.

Gale, who was a frequent visitor to the Mission Inn Hotel in Riverside, California, became a friend of Frank Augustus Miller, the founder of the hotel. After Miller's death in 1935, Zona Gale wrote a biography titled Frank Miller of Mission Inn, published in 1938.[3] A group of rooms on the fourth floor of The Mission Inn became known as "authors row" and the "Zona Gale room" is room 409.[citation needed]

Gale died of pneumonia in a Chicago hospital in 1938.[4]

The house she built for her parents in Portage, now known as the Zona Gale House, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[5]



  • Romance Island (1906)
  • Christmas: A Story (1912)
  • Heart's Kindred (1915)
  • A Daughter of the Morning (1917)
  • Birth (1918)
  • Miss Lulu Bett (1920)
  • Faint Perfume (1923)
  • Preface to Life (1926)
  • Borgia (1929)
  • Papa La Fleur (1933)
  • Light Woman (1937)
  • Magna (1939)

Short stories[edit]

  • "The Loves of Pelleas and Etarre" (1907)
  • "Friendship Village" (1908)
  • "Friendship Village Love Stories" (1909)
  • "Mothers to Men" (1911)
  • "When I Was a Little Girl" (1913)
  • "Neighborhood Stories" (1914)
  • "Peace in Friendship Village" (1919)
  • "The Neighbors" (1920)
  • "Yellow Gentians and Blue" (1927)
  • "Bill" (1927)
  • Bridal Pond (1930) [a collection of 13 stories]
  • "Old-Fashioned Tales" (1933)
  • "The Parting"


  • The Neighbors (1914) (in Wisconsin Plays, edited by T.H. Dickinson)
  • Miss Lulu Bett (1920) (dramatization of her novel)
  • Uncle Jimmy (1922)
  • Mr. Pitt (1925)
  • The Clouds (1932)
  • Evening Clothes (1932)
  • Faint Perfume (1934) (dramatization of her novel)


  • The Secret Way (1921)

Essays and non-fiction[edit]

  • Civic Improvement in the Little Towns (1913) (pamphlet)
  • What Women Won in Wisconsin (1922) (pamphlet)
  • "The Novel of Tomorrow" (1922) (in The Novel of Tomorrow and the Scope of Fiction by Twelve American Novelists)
  • Portage, Wisconsin and Other Essays (1928)
  • Frank Miller of the Mission Inn (biography) (1938)


  1. ^ a b c d e http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/topics/gale/ Zona Gale's bio at the Wisconsin Historical Society.
  2. ^ Stannard, Una (1977). Mrs Man. Germainbooks. ISBN 0-914142-02-X, p. 192.
  3. ^ Simonson, Harold P. (March 1959). "Zona Gale's Acquaintance "with" Francis Grierson". The Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly. 41 (1): 11–16. doi:10.2307/41172634. JSTOR 41172634.
  4. ^ "Zona Gale, Author Dies of Pneumonia". The Montreal Gazette. December 28, 1938. Retrieved June 7, 2010.
  5. ^ "Zona Gale Home". City of Portage. Retrieved 2012-02-01.

Further reading[edit]

  • Champion, Laurie (ed.). American Women Writers, 1900-1945: A Bio-bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000.
  • Derleth, August. Still Small Voice: The Biography of Zona Gale. New York: Appleton-Century, 1940.
  • Ehrhardt, Julia. Writers of Conviction: The Personal Politics of Zona Gale, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Rose Wilder Lane, and Josephine Herbst. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2004.
  • Simonson, Harold P. Zona Gale. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1962.
  • Williams, Deborah L. Not in Sisterhood: Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, Zona Gale, and the Politics of Female Authorship. New York: Palgrave, 2001.

External links[edit]