Zona Gale was born in Portage, Wisconsin, and attended college there and earned a master's degree at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She worked as a journalist in Milwaukee and New York. Her first published work was the sentimental novel, Romance Island (1906). Her 1918 novel Birth was later adapted for the stage under the title of Mr. Pitt in 1924, but she achieved real public recognition and fame for her real-life depictions of life in the Midwest for her popular novel Miss Lulu Brett (1920). In 1921, she was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the stage version of it. Her other novels included, Papa le Fleur (1933), and the story anthology Yellow Gentians and Blue (1927).
Zona Gale was a fervent supporter of the suffrage campaign to win the right for women to vote, a pacifist, and an admirer of the work of Jane Addams at Hull House. In 1928, she married William Breese, a manufacturer from her home town, which led to her collection, Portage, Wisconsin and Other Essays (1928).