Nebraska Authors

Frederick Ballard

AKA: Fred

Born 1884 Grafton, NE (USA)

Died 1957-09-24

Ballard studied literature at the University of Nebraska, receiving his B.A. in 1905 and his M.A. in 1907. He worked briefly on a Colorado ranch, then, following advice from playwright Charles Klein he moved to Chicago, where he was able to broaden his practical experience with theater.

In 1910-1911, Ballard was admitted to Harvard University where he studied theater with George Pierce Baker and received the first Master's degree in Creative Writing by that university. At that time he wrote the play "Believe Me, Xantippe!" which won the John Craig Prize at Harvard, which included a $250 and production of the play at the Castle Square Theater in Boston. The play went on to great success on Broadway, where it starred John Barrymore. It began its Broadway run at the Thirty-ninth Street Theater on August 19, 1913 and ran for 79 performances. It would eventually be the basis of a movie. Ballard went on to be a very well regarded and successful playwright into the 1930s. His plays attracted well known actors and actresses. He also wrote collaboratively with actor Charles Bickford and mystery writer Mignon Eberhart.

There is a quantity of manuscript material concerning Ballard in his vertical file, perhaps parts of the thesis by Heffelbower. Also letters from Ballard's wife to the Speech and Drama Department at the University here in Lincoln. He left his wife behind in New Jersey when he moved back to Lincoln in 1944, she says he needed to renew his roots, and have time alone to write. He lived at the Lincoln YMCA from 1944 until his death in 1957. After coming to Lincoln, he dressed in cast-off clothing and appeared as a somewhat battered eccentric. He was very pleased that he was still receiving royalties from his plays.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Archives and Special Collections has a Fred Ballard Theatrical Scrapbooks Collection that includes some correspondence. Also noted in the finding aid for that collection is the presence of some Ballard correspondence in their Mari Sandoz and Erwin Barbour collections.


Places Lived

Lincoln, NE

Author Of

  • Fiction
  • Play/Screenplay




B.A. (Literature) University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 1905
M.A. (English Literature), University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1907
MFA (Creative Writing), Harvard University, Cambridge, MA



Places Worked

University of Nebraska, Lincoln


Many of Ballard's plays were performed on Broadway.
John Craig Prize for "Believe Me, Xantippe!", 1913


Partial List of Plays:
Believe Me, Xantippe: A Comedy in Four Acts. 1913 (1918).
Young America. 1915. (First presented as Me and My Dog in Atlantic City )
The Rainy Day. 1923.
Out-A-Luck. 1924.
Dollars and Chickens. 1926.
Henry's Harem. 1926.
The Cyclone Lover. 1928.
The Sandy Hooker. 1929. (in collaboration with Charles Bickford)
Ladies of the Jury: A Comedy in Three Acts. 1931.
My Lucky Day. 1935.
320 College Avenue: A Comedy in Three Acts. 1938. (Co-Written with Mignon Eberhart)

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Frederick Ballard

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(e.g. Author is buried in Fremont, not in David City / Also wrote for the Daily Nebraskan during her time as a student)