Dean of the Women Playwrights: Martha Morton (1865–1925)

  • Sherry D. Engle


In August 1892, the American Dramatist Club gathered in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, for their monthly meeting. Martha Morton, an up-and-coming playwright, was the invited guest, but while the men met at the Grand View Hotel, Morton lunched with their wives in a nearby cottage.3 Fifteen years later in March 1907, the American Dramatist Club finally broke their long-standing men-only tradition by inviting established women dramatists to join them for their yearly dinner at Delmonico’s. It was at this auspicious event that Morton, now known as the “Dean of the Women Playwrights,” announced the formation of the Society of Dramatic Authors, consisting of thirty women and one man. In her address to Club members Morton concluded: “Gentlemen, we are not going to blame you for something of which you are entirely innocent—about which you were never even consulted—your sex—we are not going to ostracize you because you are merely men—we invite you all!. … All dramatists are one in their work; therefore, as moderns we make no restrictions of nationality or sex.”4 Shortly thereafter, the two groups merged into the Society of American Dramatists and Composers, forerunner to today’s Dramatists Guild.


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© Sherry D. Engle 2007

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  • Sherry D. Engle

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