William Inge was a playwright who also wrote two novels. Additionally, he 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. Later, he studied at the University of Kansas. After college, he wrote plays and taught at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Eventually, he 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 where he set most of his plays.
Center for the Arts
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. A yearly Theater Festival is also hosted by The Center for the Arts honoring outstanding playwrights for their work.
During the summer of 2016, I was able to visit Independence, Kansas and view the William Inge Collection. Surrounding the theater is a lovely expanse of green grass which seemed perfect for a picnic, and made me think of Inge’s classic play. Also, I enjoyed seeing all the trees planted in honor of various playwrights, including August Wilson and Horton Foote.
Stepping inside to view the collection, I was struck by how many movie posters were on the walls. Of course, these posters reflected the high degree of success Inge had in seeing his works translated to film. I enjoyed viewing the large collection of books, pictures, and other mementos related to Inge’s remarkable career. Before I left, I made sure to sign the guestbook and took note of the many visitors who’ve also left their signatures. People come to Independence, Kansas, from all over to learn more about William Inge.
The area outside the theater made me think of Inge’s play, Picnic. ©Author Adventures
This is the fourth stop on our Kansas Author Adventures Trail.
Rebecca Blake Beech