Guide to the E. P. Conkle papers, 1928-1994

E. P. Conkle C0157


Published by George Mason University Libraries

Contact Information:

Fenwick Library (2FL)

George Mason University

Fairfax, Virginia 22030-4444

USA

Phone: (703) 993-2220

Fax: (703) 993-8911

Email: speccoll@gmu.edu

URL: http://sca.gmu.edu

Descriptive Summary

Repository George Mason University. Special Collections and Archives.
Creator E. P. (Ellsworth Prouty) Conkle
Title E. P. Conkle papers
Date 1928-1994
Physical Characteristics 3.5 linear ft.; 7 boxes
Abstract Included in the E. P. Conkle papers are plays, poetry, short stories, and book manuscripts written by E. P. Conkle, mostly during Conkle's professorship at the University of Texas at Austin (1939-1973).
Collection number C0157
Language English

Biographical Information

Ellsworth Prouty Conkle (1899-1994) was a prolific playwright and professor of playwriting. Born on July 10, 1899, Conkle grew up on a farm in the small town of Peru, Nebraska. His rural upbringing had an enduring influence on his writing as exemplified in his first published book, Crick Bottom Plays (1928), a collection of short plays which dramatize the wit and wisdom of folksy Nebraskans. After high school Conkle went to Peru State Teachers College and completed his undergraduate education in 1923 at the University of Nebraska. Conkle did graduate work at Yale University in 1926-1928 and earned his Ph.D in playwriting from the University of Iowa in 1936. From 1936-1939 Conkle worked as an assistant professor of speech at the University of Iowa. In 1939 he joined the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin as an associate professor where he became a full professor in 1945 and taught until his retirement in 1973. Conkle's former students include Tennessee Williams, Pat Hingle, Tommy Tune, and Fess Parker.

In addition to teaching classes and developing the Department of Drama at the University of Texas, Conkle wrote numerous published and unpublished plays, several short stories, and dozens of poems. Much of his work captures the humor and wisdom of a bygone era in American folk-life, including the short play "Sparkin'" (1928) and the long plays "Johnny Appleseed" (1940) and "No Time for Heaven" (1972). Abraham Lincoln became another favorite subject of Conkle's, and the play "Prologue to Glory" (1938), a fictionalized account of Lincoln's formative years in New Salem, was chosen for production by the Federal Theatre Project and performed across the United States in 1938-1939. Capitalizing on its success, Conkle wrote a radio script based on the play, entitled Honest Abe, which was produced by CBS and aired in thirty-six parts between 1940 and 1941. Conkle died in 1994.

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Scope and Content

Included in the E. P. Conkle papers are plays, poetry, short stories, and book manuscripts written by E. P. Conkle, mostly during Conkle's professorship at the University of Texas at Austin (1939-1973). Most of the manuscripts in the collection are undated. Thus, specific dates on subsequently published materials typically refer to the date of publication, and date ranges on unpublished materials refer to letterheads indicating Conkle's employ at the University of Texas or the University of Iowa. The collection also contains playbills and director's notes from various productions of Prologue to Glory, the radio script to the CBS-produced series, Honest Abe (1940-1941), works and notes from former students, and correspondence between Conkle and his wife, Virginia McNeal Conkle.

Series 1: Correspondence and Biographical Material contains letters written to E. P. Conkle and various articles pertaining to Conkle's career as a playwright.

Series 2: Book Manuscripts contains typed and annotated manuscripts of E. P. Conkle's books Grandpa's Little White Rent House, A Hornbook for Playwrights, and Wake Up, Tom Aycup, or, the Tale of a Great Guy.

Series 3: Play Scripts contains typed and annotated play scripts written by Conkle, including "At the Depot," "Day's End," "Good Night, Dear Grandma," "With How Little Wisdom," and a three-volume weekly radio script entitled "Honest Abe." Also included is a play script by Patty Gideon Sloan entitled "Mementos."

Series 4: Poetry contains typed and annotated poems written by Conkle, including the collections Eleven Various Ballads, A Gift of Small Inconsequential Verses, and Thirteen Sonnets Which Speak of Time, and One More.

Series 5: Short Stories contains typed and annotated copies of Conkle's stories "Little Angel of the Backward Look," "Traveller, and General Lee," and "Miss Lute."

Series 6: Miscellaneous contains various items including essays and term papers Conkle wrote as a student.

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Arrangement

This collection is organized into six series by document type and genre with manuscripts arranged alphabetically by title and correspondence arranged chronologically.

Series 1: Correspondence and Biographical Material, 1938-1939, 1977-1994 (Box 1)
Series 2: Book Manuscripts, undated (Box 1)
Series 3: Play Scripts, 1928-1973, bulk 1939-1973 (Boxes 2-6)
Series 4: Poetry, 1939-1973 (Box 6)
Series 5: Short Stories, 1939-1973 (Box 7)
Series 6: Miscellaneous, 1931-1992 (Box 7)

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Restrictions

Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

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Related Material

Special Collections and Archives also holds the Jay Bradford Fowler, Jr. papers as well as collections on the Federal Theatre Project.

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Index Terms

Persons:

Conkle, E. P. (Ellsworth Prouty)

Subjects:

American drama--20th century.
American poetry--20th century.
Short stories, American--20th century.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

E. P. Conkle papers, Collection #C0157, Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University Libraries.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Virginia McNeal Conkle in 1994.

Processing Information

Processed by Special Collections and Archives staff. EAD markup completed by Eron Ackerman and Jordan Patty in April 2009.

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Contents List

Series 1: Correspondence and Biographical Material, 1938-1939, 1977-1994
This series contains letters written to E. P. Conkle and various articles pertaining to Conkle's career as a playwright.
Box Folder
1 1 Personal, circa 1977-1994
1. Letter from Patty Gideon Sloan to E. P. Conkle, undated
2. Letter from Mrs. Virginia Conkle to Lorraine Brown, September 18, 1994
3. Brief annotated biography of E. P. Conkle, undated
facsimile
4. Annotated biographical entry from "Contemporary Authors," 1982
facsimile
5. Biographical write-up of Conkle for "Notable Names in American Theatre," 1977
facsimile
6. George Mason University Federal Theatre Tribute Luncheon Guest List
facsimile
Box Folder
1 2 Prologue to Glory Playbills and Press, 1938-1939
1. Playbill for "Prologue to Glory," Portland Production, January 1939
facsimile
2. Audience reaction sheet for "Prologue to Glory," Portland Production, 1939
facsimile
3. News article from the New Orleans States entitled "Lincoln drama well received," January 24, 1939
facsimile
4. Playbill for "Prologue to Glory," Cincinnati Production, undated
facsimile
5. Playbill for "Prologue to Glory," Chicago-Based Road Company, January 1939
facsimile
6. Memorandum from the Federal Theatre's Publicity Department entitled "Prologue Tour Praised" 1939
facsimile; address of the Works Progress Administration in heading
7. Playbill for "Prologue to Glory," San Francisco Production, May 1938
facsimile
8. Director's Report for "Prologue to Glory," June 1938
facsimile; note in margin indicates "Los Angeles Production,"
Series 2: Book Manuscripts, undated
This series contains typed and annotated manuscripts of books written by E. P. Conkle.
Box Folder
1 3 Grandpa's Little White Rent House, undated
Austin, Texas; typed manuscript, 292 pages, includes cover with title
4 Grandpa's Little White Rent House copy, undated
typed manuscript, 292 pages, no cover
5 A Hornbook for Playwrights, before 1974
University of Texas, Austin; typed manuscript with annotations, 135 pages
6 Wake Up, Tom Aycup, or, the Tale of a Great Guy, undated
Austin, Texas; typed manuscript with revisions, 266 pages
Series 3: Play Scripts, 1928-1973
This is the largest series of the collection, and it contains typed and annotated play scripts written by E. P. Conkle and includes one play script written by Patty Gideon Sloan entitled "Mementos."
Box Folder
2 1 "At the Depot" and Four Other Short Plays; "A Long Journey" (tentative title), 1939-1973
University of Texas, Austin; includes the plays "Dusk, Dusk, Dusk," "Two Minds with but Two Single Thoughts," "Mr. Map and the Beautiful Hat," "Oak Leaves Burning," and an annotated play script tentatively titled "A Long Journey."
2 "Day's End" and "Oak Leaves Burning," 1939-1973
University of Texas, Austin; includes an 18 page annotated manuscript of "Day's End: A Few Words Spoken by Mr. Lincoln, the President," an 11 page typed play script of "Day's End" with no revisions, and an 18 page annotated manuscript for "Oak Leaves Burning."
3 Five Short Plays for Twenty-Four Elderly Women and a Young Girl, 1939-1973
University of Texas, Austin; includes typed play scripts for "The Fancy One," "Four Old Ladies and Pansy Potter," "Oak Leaves Burning," "Gatie, or Eight Women on a Toot," and "The Jewel in Papa's Crown," 62 pages.
4 "Good Night, Dear Grandma," 1939-1973
University of Texas, Austin; includes two 133 page typed play scripts for "Good Night, Dear Grandma," one of which contains manuscript revisions marked "final."
5 Honest Abe, vol. 1, broadcast aired on September 14 - December 20, 1940
Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS); a radio script divided into 12 parts for weekly broadcasting, volume 1 of 3
Box Folder
3 1 Honest Abe, vol. 2, broadcast aired on December 28, 1940 - March 22, 1941
Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS); a radio script divided into 12 parts for weekly broadcasting, volume 2 of 3
2 Honest Abe, vol. 3, broadcast aired on March 29 - June 18, 1941
Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS); a radio script divided into 12 parts for weekly broadcasting, volume 3 of 3
Box Folder
4 1 "Incident on Collander Hill," 1939-1973
University of Texas, Austin; two copies of the play script, 121 pages each
2 Johnny Appleseed, circa 1940
3 "Mementos" by Patty Gideon Sloan, undated
Texas; typed script of play in three acts by Patty Gideon Sloan; see Box 1, Folder 1 for correspondence with Sloan
4 "Mr. Lincoln, the President," 1939-1973
two annotated scripts with revisions, one titled simply "Mr. President," approximately 120 pages each
5 "A Murder of Convenience," "Muletail Prime," and "Sparkin'," circa 1928-1949
Austin, Texas
1. "A Murder of Convenience," undated
Austin, Texas; facsimile of typescript
2. "Muletail Prime," circa 1949
cast: Clyte Cedars and Arlie Askew; place: Clyte's place
3. "Sparkin'," circa 1928
Box Folder
4 6 "No Time for Heaven," circa 1972
123 pages
Box Folder
5 1 "Oxygenator," 1936-1939
University of Iowa, Experimental Theatre Seminar; soft-bound copy, 91 pages
2 Papa Got Us into It, or, There's a New Woman in Town: A Play in Three Acts undated
two typed manuscripts
3 "Sam Smith's Oral History of His Times," 1969
University of Texas, Austin; two copies of the play script, one 65 pages and another with revisions at 69 pages
4 "Stormy Weather," undated
84 pages
5 "Waiting for Henry Plummer," 1971
University of Texas, Austin; two typed copies, one marked "Final / 1971"
Box Folder
6 1 "Way Down in the Paw-Paw Patch: A Grand Guignol," undated
two copies, one 66 pages and the other 67 pages; the former bears a stamp of the author's agent, Frieda Fishbein
2 "With How Little Wisdom: A Play about War," 1939-1973
University of Texas, Austin; two copies, 113 pages each
Series 4: Poetry, circa 1939-1973
This collection contains typed and annotated poems written by E. P. Conkle.
Box Folder
6 3 "196 Disjointed Thoughts from a Demented Mind," undated
several copies, including one 8 page typed copy with corrections
4 Eleven Various Ballads, undated
Austin, Texas; typed poems with revisions, including "Ballad of the Gay Cavalier," "The Ballad of Henry Plummer," "Ballad to a Wooden Leg," "The Ballad of the Youngster and His Dog," "Ballad of a Hallelujah Marriage," "Ballad of the Merry Miller-Man," "Ballad of the Prairies," "Ballad of Aunt Susan," "Ballad of Mad Beggars," "Ballad of the Happy Milkmaid," and "Ballad of the Cosset Lamb and the Crumpled Cow"
5 A Gift of Small Inconsequential Verses, undated
two typed 45 page manuscripts of poems including "Birds and Other Animals," "Weather and Scenery," "More and Less Personal," "Just People," and "Philosophy and Other Things"
6 Poems about My Farm; A Saga of St. Paul; A Gift of Small Verses, 1939-1973
University of Texas, Austin; these poetry collections are respectively 22 pages, 27 pages, and 41 pages long; folder includes a title page of "Verses for a Year"
7 Thirteen Sonnets Which Speak of Time, and One More, 1939-1973
University of Texas, Austin; typed manuscripts with revisions
8 Verses about My Grandpa; Inconsequential Quatrains for a Year, 1939-1973
small format type scripts
Series 5: Short Stories, circa 1939-1973
This collection contains typed and annotated short stories written by E. P. Conkle.
Box Folder
7 1 "Little Angel of the Backward Look," 1939-1973
University of Texas, Austin; two copies of the manuscript, 14 pages each, the second alternately titled, "The Littlest Angel of the Backward Look, a Fantasy"
2 "Traveller, and General Lee"; "Miss Lute," 1939-1973
University of Texas, Austin; two copies of "Traveller, and General Lee," both 22 pages and one with annotations; one 43 page copy of "Miss Lute"
Series 6: Miscellaneous, 1931-1992
This collection contains various items including essays and term papers Conkle wrote as a student.
Box Folder
7 3 Miscellaneous, 1931-1992
1. "The Element of Comedy in the Towneley Cycle," December 28, 1931 - January 5, 1932
35 pages including bibliography; described on title page as "a term-paper written for the class in "Chaucer" for Mr. Frantz"; annotated
2. The Department of Drama - The University of Texas, Austin - M.F.A. Theses and PhD. Dissertations, circa 1979
list of University of Texas graduate students and the titles of their theses and dissertations arranged by date
3. "Let Him Copy!", undated
University of Texas, Austin; revised three-page essay on education written by Conkle
4. News article from Sunday World Herald," October 4, 1992
5. Lists of play titles and a four-line untitled verse, undated
two pages listing titles of plays by Conkle and four lines of verse, untitled
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