Davenporters of Note: George Cram Cook

George Cram Cook was born in Davenport on October 7, 1873, to a prominent, respectable family.

His parents sent their son to be formally educated not only at Harvard, but at the universities in Heidelberg and Geneva.  They were hoping he might join the legal or banking professions.  To their confusion and occasional dismay, Jig—as he was called—was never a lawyer or a banker.

What he was, during his lifetime, was a socialist, a novelist, a farmer, a poet, a playwright, and—more importantly—an encouraging, energizing influence on everyone he met.

He held literary and philosophical weekends at his farm near Buffalo, where a generation or two of free-thinkers were allowed to state their opinions on society and the rights of the individual.  Floyd Dell, a young man who was to wield some influence himself, practiced his rhetoric while working on Jig’s farm.

It was Jig’s enthusiasm for experimental plays that encouraged his wife, Susan Glaspell, to write several well-received scripts, including Trifles, which remains one of her best known works.   Likewise, it was his enthusiasm for the theater that led to the establishment of the Provincetown Players in Massachusetts, an organization that gave many famous playwrights—Eugene O’Neill and Edna St. Vincent Millay among them—a chance to prove themselves.

So, while George Cram Cook’s own novels, books, poetry, and scripts may not be as well-known as the work of his wife and friends, without him, the literary, philosophical, and theater world might have been a poorer place.

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Works of George Cram Cook at the Davenport Public Library:

Company B of Davenport (SC 353.9777 Coo)

Greek Coins (SC 811 Coo)

Roderick Tliaferro (SC Fic Coo)

“The Spring” (SC 812 Coo)

“Suppressed Desires”, co-written with Susan Glaspell (SC 812 Gla)

 

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