A Jury of Her Peers (Glaspell)
Susan Glaspell's "A Jury of Her Peers," first published in 1917, is a short story adaptation of her one-act play Trifles. Since their first publication, both the story and the play have appeared in many anthologies of women writers and playwrights. Although Trifles was written first and performed in 1916 by Glaspell's theater troupe, the Provmcetown Players, the play was not published until three years after the short story appeared in the March 5, 1917 edition of Everyweek magazine. Inspired by events witnessed during her years as a court reporter in Iowa, Glaspell crafted a story in which a group of rural women deduce the details of a murder in which a woman has killed her husband. Understanding the clues left amidst the "trifles" of the woman's kitchen, the women are able to outsmart their husbands, who are at the farmhouse to collect evidence, and thus prevent the wife from being convicted of the crime. The play was received warmly, and Glaspell made only minor changes in adapting the play into a short story.
Glaspell claimed that "A Jury of Her Peers" was based on an actual court case she covered as a reporter for the Des Moines Daily. On December 2, 1900, sixty-year-old farmer John Hossack was murdered in Indianola, Iowa. His skull was crushed by an ax while he and his wife were asleep in bed. His wife, Margaret, was tried for the crime and eventually released due to inconclusive evidence. Like Minnie Wright, the main character of Glaspell's story, Mrs. Hossack claimed not to have seen the murderer. The trial was attended many of the town's women. Among them was the sheriff’s wife, who showed much sympathy to Mrs. Hossack throughout the trial despite having initially testified against her. Critics believe that Glaspell based the character of Mrs. Peters on this woman. Because women were not allowed to be jurors at the trial, Glaspell created a jury of those female peers in...