Index of Memorial Resolutions and Biographical Sketches

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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IN MEMORIAM

ELLSWORTH P. CONKLE


E. P. Conkle came to teach at The University of Texas at Austin in 1939, one year after the founding of the College of Fine Arts. Having received degrees from the University of Nebraska and his doctorate in Playwriting from the University of Iowa, and after spending two years at Yale in George Pierce Baker’s English 47 class, he developed and led the playwriting program of the Department of Drama (now Theatre and Dance) for thirty-four years. He also became the departmental graduate advisor and was instrumental in instituting the M.F.A. and Ph.D. degree programs. For eight summers Professor Conkle taught playwriting at the Banff School of Fine Arts in Banff, Canada.

Besides teaching and advising drama students Professor Conkle constantly wrote for the theatre, himself. He had more than fifty plays published, both one-act and full-length, and for a time his own writing included a weekly CBS radio show, Honest Abe. The series was based on Conkle’s play about Lincoln, Prologue to Glory, originally written for and produced by the Federal Theatre Project on Broadway in 1938. His 200 Were Chosen was also produced on Broadway.

Many of his plays, rooted in American folk life, capture the humor and wisdom of country and small-town living a generation or more ago. The most famous of the short plays in this genre is the frequently produced Sparkin’.

The Department of Theatre and Dance has produced several of Conkle’s folk plays including Johnny Appleseed in 1940. A musical version of the play, entitled Fresh From Heaven, was performed in 1973, the year Professor Conkle retired and was named Professor Emeritus. Premiere productions of full-length plays No Time for Heaven and Quest for an Answer were also mounted by the department.

Among Conkle’s students when he taught playwriting at the University of Iowa was Tennessee Williams; at The University of Texas students included Pat Hingle, Tommy Tune, and Fess Parker.

Ellsworth Prouty Conkle was born on July 10, 1899, and grew up on a farm in Nebraska. He received his bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Nebraska. He did graduate work at Yale University from 1926 to 1928, won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1929, and received a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship from 1934 to 1936. He received a doctorate in playwriting at the University of Iowa in 1936.

Dr. Conkle is survived by his wife, Virginia, and a son, E. P. Conkle II, of Austin, a daughter, Alice Elena Cogdell, of Arlington, Texas; two brothers, Francis, of Wheatland, Colorado, and Orville, of Peru, Nebraska; and six grandchildren.


<signed>

Robert M. Berdahl, President
The University of Texas at Austin


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H. Paul Kelley, Secretary
The General Faculty




This Memorial Resolution was prepared by a special committee consisting of Professors Coleman A. Jennings (Chair), David Nancarrow, and Webster Smalley.

Conkle’s Published One-Act Plays:

Afternoon Storm

Arlie, The Bug Boy

Bauble for the Baby, A

Chickadee

Chief Sittum Bull

China Handled Knife, The

Day’s End

Feller from Omaha, The

Funeral Piece for Rosalie, A

Gold Is Where You Don’t Find It

Granny’s Little Cherry Room

Hawk a’Flyin’

Heave Is Such a Long Time to Wait

If You Can’t Eat Fish With Out Tenderloin

Incident at Eureka Bumps

Jewel In Papa’s Crown, The

Juber Bird, The

Kitten in an Elm Tree

Lace

Lavender Gloves

Least One, The

‘Lection

Little Granny Graver

Loolie

Lots of Old People Are Really Good for Something

Madge

Minnie Field