Woman of the Century/Martha Morton
MORTON, Miss Martha, author and play-wright, born m New York, N. Y., in 1865. Her parents are English, and in 1875 she was taken to their native town in England, where she lived and studied for several years in an artistic atmosphere. Her early studies included a thorough course in English literature, and she became a profound student of dramatic form and style in composition. Her studies of the English classics were earnest and wide, and her own literary tastes and ambitions soon began to take form. Returning to New York City, she made her first effort in dramatic composition a fine dramatization of George Eliot's "Daniel Deronda." Her effort was encouraged by the late John Gilbert. She then devoted herself to study and composition for several years. One of her plays was put upon the boards by Clara Morris, and it still holds a place in the repertory of that great actor. In 1881, when the subject of high-pressure living was occupying public attention, she wrote her now famous play, "The Merchant." She presented the manuscript to a number of New York managers, who read it and returned it to her labeled "unavailable." Discouraged by repeated rejections, she put away the manuscript, and only when her family suggested to her that she compete for a prize offered by the New York "World" for the best play sent within a given time, did she draw it forth from her desk. Carrying the manuscript down town one day, she absent-mindedly left it on the counter of a shop, walked off and forgot the entire incident, until reminded of the approaching competition. The manuscript was recovered after much difficulty, won the first prize, and, after production in a matinee performance, was again threatened with oblivion. By accident the play was finally purchased, but another delay of twelve months occurred before it earned real success. Miss Morton is a profound student, is ardently ambitious, works for pure love of the profession, and is keenly critical of her own work. She composes very slowly and her fastidious taste involves an immense amount of labor. She has a new drama ready to place on the boards and has work laid out for several years to come. She is the author of "Geoffrey Middleton, Gentleman," an American play that has run successfully in New York City and other towns. Among her patrons is MARTHA MORTON. William H. Crane, the comedian. She has set up a high standard in her work and she labors diligently to reach it in every case. She is the youngest woman who ever became a successful playwright. She has a pleasant home in New York City, and her pecuniary returns from her work have given her abundant leisure to devote to her forthcoming plays.