Author: William Inge

Profile: William Motter Inge better known as William Inge was an American novelist and playwright. He was born in on May 03, 1913 in Independence, Kansas and died on June 10, 1973. He became popular as the ‘Playwright of the Midwest’ with his portraits of life in small-towns and settings rooted deeply in the heartland of America. Picnic, was his memorable Broadway production during the early 1950s. William Inge studied at Independence Community College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech and Drama in 1935 from the University of Kansas.


William Ange was a member of the Nu chapter of Sigma Nu at the University of Kansas. After receiving a scholarship to work on a Master of Arts degree, he attended the George Peabody College for Teachers at Nashville, Tennessee however dropped out later. He worked as a Wichita news announcer and laborer on state highways, back in Kansas. He taught drama and English from 1937 to 1938 at Cherokee County Community High School in Columbus, Kansas. In 1938 he returned from Peabody completing his Master’s and taught at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri from the year 1938 to 1943. In 1943 he started his career as a drama critic at the St.Louis Star-Times. Inge wrote, Farther Off from Heaven (1947) his first play.

Writing style: Solitary protagonists impeded with weary sexual relations are typically presented in William Ange’s works.

Published Texts:



1950 – Come Back, Little Sheba

1953 – Picnic

1955 – Bus Stop

1957 – The Dark at the Top of the Stairs

1959 – A Loss of Roses

1962 – Summer Brave (a reworking of Picnic)

1963 – Natural Affection

1966 – Where’s Daddy?

1973 – The Last Pad

Off the Main Road

Short Plays

To Bobolink, for Her Spirit

People in the Wind

A Social Event

The Boy in the Basement

The Tiny Closet

Memory of Summer

Bus Riley’s Back in Town

The Rainy Afternoon

The Mall

An Incident at the Standish Arms

The Strains of Triumph

1953 – Glory in the Flower

The Killing

The Love Death

The Silent Call

Bad Breath

Morning on the Beac

Moving In

A Murder

Film and TV

1952 – Come Back Little Sheba

1955 – Picnic

1956 – Bus Stop

1961 – Spendor in the Grass 1963 – All Fall Down

1964 – Out on the Outskirts of Town

1965 – Bus Riley’s Back in Town


1970 – Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff

1971 - My Son Is a Splendid Driver


Awards and Acknowledgements:

1961 – Won the Academy Award for Splendor in the Grass (Best Writing, Story and Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen)

Theme of his novel Good Luck Miss Wyckoff includes sexual tension, spinsterhood, public humiliation and racism during the late 1950’s

He has a star on the St.Louis Walk of Fame

There is a black box theatre named for William Inge in Murphy Hall at the University of Kansas

He is a member of the American Theatre Hall of Fame, inducted posthumously in 1979

The Independence Community College’s William Inge Centre for the Arts in his hometown has sponsored the annual William Inge Theatre Festival to honor playwrights since 1982

The Brooklyn Rail, featured interviews by playwright Adam Kraar of former Inge House resident playwrights Marcia Cebulksa, caridad Svich, Catherine Filloux, Alice Tuan and Lydia Stryk relating to how the work and life of Inge has influenced them in the March 2008 issue