William Inge was a playwright who also wrote two novels and saw a number of his plays adapted into successful Hollywood films. Over the course of his writing career, he won a Pulitzer Prize and an Academy Award.
He was born in Independence, Kansas, in 1913 and studied at Independence Community College and the University of Kansas. After college, he wrote plays and taught at Washington University in St. Louis. He later achieved success with his plays on Broadway and moved to New York. Still, he continued to be a writer with deep roots in the Midwest and he set most of his plays there.
The theater at the community college which he attended was eventually named for him and the college also houses all of his papers. The William Inge Collection at the William Inge Center for the Arts is open for visitors interested in learning more about him and his huge volume of writing. The Center for the Arts also hosts the yearly William Inge Theater Festival honoring outstanding playwrights for their work.
We were able to visit the William Inge Theatre and view the William Inge Collection during the summer of 2016. Outside the theater there is a lovely expanse of green grass and there are numerous trees planted in honor of various playwrights, including August Wilson and Horton Foote. The nearby library houses the large collection of books, movie posters, and other mementos related to Inge’s remarkable career. When you visit, make sure to sign the guestbook and take note of the many visitors who’ve also left their signatures; people come from all over to learn more about William Inge.
This is the third stop on our Kansas Trail!
Rebecca Blake Beech