History of American Literature
by Edward Simonds
Chapter 1: I
| II | III
| IV | Chapter 2: I
| II | III
| IV | V
| Chapter 3: I | II
| III | IV
| Chapter 4: I | II
| III | IV
| V | Chapter 5: I
| II | III
| IV | Chapter 6: I
| II | III
| IV | V
| VI | Chapter 7: I
| II | III
| IV |
The New Spirit.
continuity of literature is, happily, not a continuity of unvarying standards
or unchanging ideals.
teach new duties; Time makes ancient good uncouth."
Literature is normally
in a transitional state and there are no hard and fast chronological lines that
separate the old from the new. Nevertheless there occur periods more or less
clearly marked, in which one may trace the advent of new interests and the waning
of old traditions. Such a period in the history of our literature may be recognized
in both England and America. We characterize it as the passing
of the Victorian Age; it is almost coincident with the end of the nineteenth
century. In both countries the writers and thinkers who had dominated the thought
of their age had passed and a new generation had arrived. The spirit of the
age was changing. The Victorian attitude was complacent; it was largely influenced
by the past. The new generation was more insistent in its questionings and protests,
more independent of established conventions and unreserved in its utterance.
In America the new spirit is felt in the poetry of Markham, Hovey, Moody,
and Robinson, whose work began to appear just before the close of the century.
In fiction we have to look a little later for the expression of the new ideals;
and yet the eighties and the nineties produced some interesting achievements
in both realism and romance; developed a perfected art in the short story; brought
forth the best novels of W. D. Howells, Henry James, and Marion Crawford; and
saw the first work of Mrs. Deland, Ellen Glasgow, Hamlin
Garland, Robert Herrick, and Winston Churchill -- outstanding figures in
the years that follow.
FICTION SINCE 1870.
To take adequate
account of our later American fiction would require far more space than is available
in this book. Hardly more than a list of the most prominent among our novelists
can be included, with a partial classification of their work. Although it is
in fiction that American writers are now most prolific and most successful,
it is doubtful if many of these works will find a place in the literature which
endures, or if any of these popular novelists will be long remembered. Two schools
of fiction are represented: the realistic, and the romantic. It is not always
easy to discriminate, however, and there are writers who have used the methods
of both schools.
W. D. Howells,
William Dean Howells,
a consistent and uncompromising representative of the claims of realism, is
recognized as easily the foremost American novelist of his generation. His father
was a country editor; and it was in a printing-office in his native state of
Ohio that Howells received his literary training. The publication, with John
J. Piatt, of Poems of Two Friends (1860) marked
the beginning of his career. A campaign Life of Lincoln
in the same year secured his appointment as consul to Venice, a position which
he held for four years. Venetian Life (1866) and
Italian Journeys (1867) were the fruit of foreign
residence.In 1866, Howells was made assistant editor (under
James T. Fields) of the Atlantic Monthly; and from 1871 to 1881 he was
the editor of the magazine. A vivacious novel, Their Wedding
Journey (1871), added to the reputation already gained by the two Italian
books, and this was increased by >A Chance Acquaintance (1873) and A Foregone Conclusion (1874). Mr.
Howells is the author of more than thirty volumes, mainly works of fiction.
Of these, A Modern Instance (1882), The
Rise of Silas Lapham (1884), Indian Summer (1885), and A Hazard of New Fortunes (1889) have
probably aroused widest interest. Howells's literary workmanship is deserving
of the highest praise. He is minutely conscientious in his studies of character
and incident, insisting upon careful observation and an honest report. His theory
of literary art is set forth in an interesting essay, Criticism
and Fiction (1891). After 1881, the novelist was associated editorally
with various periodicals, including Harper's Magazine. While fiction
predominates in his published writings, he also wrote a number of humorous parlor
plays, several volumes of essays upon literary themes, and not a small amount
of very charming verse. Henry James, 1843-1916.
Henry James, a
native of New York, is properly denominated an American writer, although after
1869 he made his home in England. His novels are usually associated with those
of Howells as exemplifying the best work of the American realists. In James's
narratives we find the extreme application of realistic theory along with an
analysis of character and motive wonderfully minute. His novels and short stories
are psychological studies for the most part, and have a comparatively small
audience among American readers. As the novelist was at one time fond of presenting
studies of his countrymen as they sometimes appear in Europe, in the environment
of a superior culture, his work often aroused protest rather than favor here.
Such was the reception given to Daisy Miller (1878).
Others of the novels which are eminently characteristic of this author are An
International Episode (1879), The Bostonians (1886), The Princess Casamassima (1886), The
Tragic Muse (1890), What Maisie Knew (1897),
and The Ambassadors (1903). It is in the craftsmanship
and structure of his narratives that James commands most general admiration;
this artistic skill, along with his keen wit and general brilliance of style,
may be most advantageously studied in some of the short stories, -- which constitute
a large portion of his fiction, -- as, for example, in Terminations (1896) or The Private Life and Other Stories (1893).
of Local Types.
Naturally the realistic
novelists have, in the selection of material, frequently turned to the study
of characters and manners with which their environment has made them well acquainted;
there has therefore developed a large group of story-writers who deal with local
In New England.
Following the footsteps
of Harriet Beecher Stowe in the delineation of the quiet New
England life, Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909) published the placid but impressive
little story, Deep-haven, in 1877. Miss Jewett's work
in this field has been sympathetic as well as accurate, and her novels have
appealed strongly to the affections of many readers. Of these, A
Country Doctor (1884), A Marsh Island (1885),
and The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896) may be
mentioned. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward (1844-1911), born
at Boston, became widely known by the publication of two mystical novels, The
Gates Ajar (1868), and Men, Women, and Ghosts (1869). The daughter of a noted theologian and reared in the serious atmosphere
of Andover, Mrs. Ward has given a distinctively religious coloring to her numerous works, of which The Story of Avis (1877), Beyond the Gates (1883), The Madonna of the Tubs (1886), Jack the Fisherman (1887), The Gates Between (1887), A Singular Life (1894), and The
Supply at St. Agatha's (1896), are important examples. Margaretta
Wade Deland (born in Pennsylvania, 1857), whose residence since 1880 has
been at Boston, also touched the field of religious experience in her first
novel, John Ward, Preacher, published in 1888. Sidney (1890), Philip and his Wife (1894), The
Common Way (1904), The Awakening of Helena Richie (1906), and The Iron Woman (1911) are the most notable
of her works. In Old Chester Tales (1898), Dr.
Lavendar's People (1903), and Around Old Chester (1915), Mrs. Deland has produced a series of short stories that have unusual
charm. Distinguished success in realistic portrayal of New England types is
found in the work of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman (born in Massachusetts,
1862). Mrs. Freeman has portrayed with great skill and intense feeling the more
subdued yet rugged phases of New England life and character. Her short stories
are of exceptional strength and exhibit the technical methods of realism in
perfection. A Humble Romance (1887), A
New England Nun (1891), Jane Field (1892),
Pembroke (1894), and Jerome (1897) are her principal novels. Alice Brown (born in New Hampshire, 1857) has
been especially successful in her short stories, such as are gathered under
the titles Meadow-Grass (1895), Tiverton
Tales (1899), and The County Road (1906).
Closely akin in local color to the work of Mrs. Freeman, these tales admit a
little more of the brightness and warmth of the New England sunshine as it creeps
among the shadows of humble circumstances. A later novel, The
Story of Thyrza (1909), is a work of genuine creative power.
and Idealistic Fiction.
There are other
well-known writers of fiction who belong to New England, -- at least by birth,
-- whose work does not permit of such definite classification as that of the
group just considered; it is not concerned with the local type. Here belongs
the name of Jane G. Austin (1831-1894), whose historical
novels, Standish of Standish (1889), Betty
Alden (1891), etc., deal with Old Colony times. Harriet Prescott Spofford (1835-1921) is the author of numerous romantic tales beginning with Sir
Rohan's Ghost (1859). Her more mature novels include Priscilla's
Love Story (1898), The Maid He Married (1899),
and The Great Procession (1902). Ellen
Olney Kirk (born in Connecticut, 1842) published her first novel, Love
in Idleness, in 1877. She has written a score of popular stories, including
Through Winding Ways (1880), The
Story of Margaret Kent (1886), Sons and Daughters (1887), The Apology of Ayliffe (1904), and Marcia (1907). Blanche Willis Howard (1847-1898), a native of Maine,
became the wife of Dr. von Teuffel, of Stuttgart in Würtemberg, in 1890. She
died at Munich. Her first story, One Summer, a
delicate idyl, appeared in 1875; Guenn, a Breton Romance,
in 1882. Clara Louise Burnham (born in Massachusetts, 1854)
is the author of numerous works of fiction, beginning with No
Gentlemen, in 1881. Among her novels, which deal largely with the teachings
of Christian Science, the most successful are The Wise Woman (1895), The Right Princess (1902), Jewel (1903), The Opened Shutters (1906), and The Leaven of Love (1908). Arthur Sherburne Hardy (born
in Massachusetts, 1847), a graduate of West Point and at one time professor
of mathematics in Dartmouth College, has written novels of unusual charm and
strength. These are But Yet a Woman (1883), The
Wind of Destiny (1886), Passe Rose (1889),
His Daughter First (1903), Aurélie (1912), Diane and Her Friends (1914). Edward
Bellamy (1850-1898) is best known by two popular studies in political economy
presented through the medium of romance: Looking Backward (1888) and Equality (1897). Robert
Grant (born at Boston, 1852), a jurist, is well known as a writer of stimulating
essays and an author of several successful novels. He has found American society
a fruitful field for his realistic studies, of which the most prominent are:
An Average Man (1883), The Carletons (1891), Unleavened Bread (1900), The
Undercurrent (1904), and The Chippendales (1909). Frederic J. Stimson (born in Massachusetts, 1855),
like Judge Grant, a representative of the legal profession, wrote his earlier
novels under the pen-name "J. S. of Dale." Guerndale (1882), King Noanett (1896), and In
Cure of Her Soul (1906) are representative works.
New York and Pennsylvania.
Silas Weir Mitchell (1830-1914), a distinguished Philadelphia physician, after several essays in
fiction became famous with the publication of Hugh Wynne,
in 1897. This was the beginning of a notable revival of interest in the historical
novel dealing with the American Revolution. Another historical novel, The
Adventures of François, appeared in 1898, and a third, The
Red City, a picture of Washington's second administration, in 1908.
Francis R. Stockton (1834-1902), a native of Philadelphia,
best known, perhaps, as the author of The Lady or the Tiger (1884), is unique among American story-writers for the whimsical mingling of
the serious and the humorous in fiction. His first notable work was Rudder
Grange (1879), which one hardly knows whether to classify as a novel
or as romance; but its very original vein of humor is delicious and runs through
all of Stockton's succeeding work. Mrs. Amelia Edith Barr (1831-1919), born in England, after 1869 a resident of New York, was the prolific
author of more than thirty works of fiction, including Jan
Vedder's Wife (1885), The
Black Shilling, The Bow of Orange Ribbon (1886),
etc. Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen (1848-1895), another successful
American novelist not American born, was a native of Norway. After coming to
this country, he filled professorships at Cornell and Columbia. Gunnar,
a Norse Romance, his first novel, appeared in 1874. Edgar
Fawcett (1847-1904), also a writer of verse, wrote novels depicting some
phases of society in New York. Among these are An Ambitious
Woman (1883), Social Silhouettes (1885),
The House at High Bridge (1886). Brander Matthews (born at New Orleans, 1852), since 1892 a professor at Columbia, a well-known
essayist and critic, has written realistic studies -- both novels and short
stories -- of New York life; such are included in the volumes Vignettes
of Manhattan (1894), His Father's Son (1895),
and A Confident To-morrow (1899). Harold
Frederic (1856-1898), a New York journalist and foreign correspondent at
the time of his death, is best remembered by his strong, purposeful novel, The
Damnation of Theron Ware (1896). Kate Douglas Wiggin (1857-1923) published her first notable story, The Birds'
Christmas Carol, in 1888, and The Story of Patsy
in 1889. Of her subsequent stories Rebecca (1903)
has, perhaps, had the largest success. Her popular character, Penelope, first
appeared in Penelope's English Experiences (1893).
Edith Wharton (born at New York, 1862) won a place of distinction based
largely upon her intensely realistic novels, The House of
Mirth (1905) and The Fruit of the Tree (1907).
Owen Wister (born at Philadelphia, 1860) is known as the
author of The
Virginian (1902). Richard Harding Davis (1864-1916)
was born at Philadelphia. A journalist and famed as a war correspondent, he
was one of the most popular short-story writers of the day; the creator of "Gallagher"
and "Van Bibber," and author of several popular romances, among which
are The King's Jackal (1898), Soldiers
of Fortune (1899), and The White Mice (1909).
Robert W. Chambers (born at Brooklyn, 1865), who began
as a writer of romantic tales, of which Lorraine (1896)
and Cardigan (1901) are the best, later entered
the realistic field, producing a series of hectic novels of metropolitan life,
of which The Fighting Chance (1906), The
Firing Line (1908), and The Danger Mark (1909)
are examples. Paul Leicester Ford (1865-1902), author of
The Honorable Peter Stirling (1894) and Janice
Meredith (1899), and Stephen Crane (1871-1900),
a young New York journalist, who wrote a remarkable realistic study of battle,
The Red Badge of Courage (1896), were two young writers
of promise whose work was interrupted by early death. David
Graham Phillips (1867-1911) was born in Indiana but his literary career
was in New York. His twenty novels, dealing seriously with ethical and social
problems of the day, include The Great God, Success (1903), The Deluge (1905), The
Second Generation (1907), and The Conflict (1911). Southern Story-Tellers.
The Southern States
are well represented in the fiction which depicts local types of character,
and have, besides, produced novelists of note whose work is more general in
Similar to the
work of some of the New England realists is that of Richard
Malcolm Johnston (1822-1898), whose novels and tales portray the picturesque
manners prevailing in portions of his native state. Old Mark
Langston (1883),The Primes and their Neighbors (1891), Pearce Amerson's Will, and Old
Times in Middle Georgia (1897) are examples. Joel Chandler
Harris (1848-1908), for twenty-five years editor of the Atlanta
Constitution, worked in the same field. Balaam and
his Master (1891), On the Plantation (1892),
Stories of Georgia, The Story of Aaron,
Tales of the Home Folks, are the titles of some
of these volumes; but it is as "Uncle Remus," teller of tales concerning
Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Fox, that this author is most widely known. Uncle
Remus -- His Songs and his Sayings was published in 1880. Told
by Uncle Remus appeared in 1905, and almost the last publication of
this writer was a volume entitled Uncle Remus and Br'er Rabbit (1907). Virginia.
Nelson Page (1853-1922) was the author of stories which have their scene
in the Old Dominion. Among them are: In Ole Virginia (1887), Two Little Confederates (1888), Elsket (1892), Red Rock (1898), Gordon
Keith (1903), Bred in the Bone and Other Stories (1904). Amélie Rives, Princess Troubetzkoy (born at Richmond,
1863), owes her literary reputation largely to her first novel, The
Quick or the Dead, published in 1888.
Johnston (born 1870) has written three historical romances dealing with
old colony times in Virginia: Prisoners of Hope (1898), To Have and to Hold (1900), and Sir
Mortimer (1904). In Lewis Rand (1908), Miss
Johnston presents a picturesque study of political life at the opening of the
nineteenth century. The Goddess of Reason (1907)
is a drama on the theme of the French Revolution. Ellen A. G. Glasgow (born
at Richmond, 1874) is the author of The Descendant (1897), The Deliverance (1904), The
Wheel of Life (1906), The Romance of a Plain Man (1909), and The Miller of Old Church (1911) -- realistic
novels of more than usual strength.
James Lane Allen (born in Kentucky, 1849) is less of realist than idealist; the idyllic quality
appears predominant in A Kentucky Cardinal (1894)
and its sequel, Aftermath (1896). The
Choir Invisible (1897) andThe Reign of Law (1900) are historical romances depicting early life in the state. A serious
novel, The Mettle of the Pasture, appeared in 1909.
More distinctive studies of local types are found in the realistic novels of
John Fox, Jr. (1862-1919). A Mountain
Europa (1894), Hell fer Sartain (1896), and
The Kentuckians (1897) introduced Mr. Fox to
readers of fiction. The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come (1903), The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1908), and
The Heart of the Hills (1913) were equally popular.
Noailles Murfree (born in Tennessee, 1850) for some years successfully concealed
her identity under the pen-name "Charles Egbert Craddock."
In the Tennessee Mountains (1884), The
Prophet of the Great Smoky Mountain (1885), and In
the Clouds (1886) began a series of strong and interesting tales of
the mountain whites -- a class which Miss Murfree has continued to depict in
her later works. Louisiana.
The touch of the
romanticist is evident in the work of George Washington Cable (1844-1925). Although Mr. Cable was a resident of Massachusetts for many years,
his stories belong to the southland. Old Creole Days (1879), The Grandissimes (1880), Madame
Delphine (1881), Dr. Sevier (1885), and
Bonaventure (1888) are representative works.
Ruth McEnery Stuart (1856-1917) depicted with keen sense
of humor some phases of Southern life, both white and black. A
Golden Wedding and Other Tales appeared in 1893; Carlotta's
Intended and The Story of Babette (1894) were
followed by Sonny (1896), a unique and fascinating
character study. The reconstructed negro appears in the later creations of Napoleon
Jackson (1902) and George Washington Jones (1903). The River's Children (1904) is a genuine
idyl of the Mississippi. Grace Elizabeth King (born at New
Orleans, 1852) has written of the Creoles in Monsieur Motte (1888), Tales of Time and Place (1892), and Balcony
Fiction of Broader
Hodgson Burnett (born in England, 1849) removed to the United States in
1865, residing for ten years in Tennessee, and then for a period in Washington,
D.C. Mrs. Burnett's first novels, That Lass o' Lowrie's (1877) and Haworth's (1879), portray life among the
working people of Lancashire. Her Through One Administration (1883) deals with official society life in Washington. Little
Lord Fauntleroy (1886) was an exceedingly popular juvenile,
which was followed by others almost as successful. Mrs. Burnett, who died in
1924, lived of late years in England. A Lady of Quality
appeared in 1896, The Shuttle, in 1907, T.
Tembarom, in 1913.
Marion Crawford (1854-1909), most cosmopolitan of American writers, both
in residence and in the material utilized in his novels, was also one of the
most productive of our novelists. He was the son of the sculptor, Thomas C.
Crawford, and was born in Italy. His education was attained at St. Paul's School,
in Concord, New Hampshire, at Trinity College, Cambridge, at Heidelberg, and
Rome. During 1879 and 1880, he engaged in editorial work in India. Although
his residence was for the rest of his life in Italy, he remained strongly patriotic
in his sentiment toward the United States, regarding it as his country and asserting
himself always an American. His first novel, Mr. Isaacs,
appeared in 1882, and was followed by Dr. Claudius (1883),
A Roman Singer (1884), Zoroaster (1885), and A Tale of a Lonely Parish (1886). The
variety of sources from which Mr. Crawford drew his material is strikingly suggested
in the titles of his representative novels, of which the following may be mentioned:
Paul Patoff (1887), Saracinesca (1887), Greifenstein (1889), Khaled (1891), Pietro Ghisleri (1893), Katherine
Lauderdale (1894), In the Palace of the King (1900), A Lady of Rome (1906), Arethusa (1907). He was the author of more than forty books, including important studies
of Italian history and several plays. Of his novels it is conceded that those
depicting Italian life and character are the most valuable; and of these, three,
constituting the Saracinesca series, are the best. Mr. Crawford died
at his villa in Sorrento, at the age of fifty-five.
Atherton (born 1859), a Californian by birth, has lived a cosmopolitan life
here and abroad. Her early novels were written in the nineties; of her later
works The Aristocrats (1901), The
Conqueror (1902), Ancestors (1907), and The
Tower of Ivory (1910) are prominent.
Perhaps the best
known of our writers from the South is Francis Hopkinson Smith (1838-1915), a native of Baltimore. A versatile master of several arts, including
the substantial one of building lighthouses, his first success in fiction was
the fine character sketch, Colonel Carter of Cartersville (1891). Tom Grogan (1896), Caleb
West (1898), and The Tides of Barnegat (1906)
are all realistic studies of the people whom the author may have known when
living the practical business life of a building contractor and mechanical engineer.
The Fortunes of Oliver Horne (1902) is said to
be reminiscent of that period in Mr. Smith's life when he was an art student
in New York. His later stories, The Romance of an Old-Fashioned
Gentleman (1907) and Peter (1908), indicate
a return to the more sentimental manner of his earliest success. Albion
W. Tourgée (1838-1905), a native of Ohio and an officer in the Union army
throughout the Civil War, lived in North Carolina from 1865 to 1881, and during
this period wrote three or four novels dealing with political conditions in
the South. Of these, A Fool's Errand (1879) and Bricks
Without Straw (1880) aroused widespread interest. Tourgée afterward
served as United States Consul at Bordeaux and at Halifax, and was the author
of numerous stories and novels. Winston Churchill (born
at St. Louis, 1871) has taken a conspicuous place among writers of historical
romance with his impressive series dealing with great epochs in American history:
Richard Carvel (1899), The Crisis (1901), and The Crossing (1904). To these novels
must be added his first story, The Celebrity (1898), and his later novels: Coniston (1906), Mr. Crewe's Career (1908), A Modern
Chronicle (1910), The Inside of the Cup (1913),
and A Far Country (1915).
The promise of
the West as a field for the writer of fiction came with the publication of The
Hoosier Schoolmaster (1871). This book was a realistic study of character
in southern Indiana of the early fifties. Its author, Edward
Eggleston (1837-1902), was born in the pioneer days of the state at the
little town of Vevay, on the Ohio River. He entered the ministry of the Methodist
Church, and became what was then known as a "circuit rider," ministering
to a parish which required a four weeks' itinerary, involving both hardship
and peril. In six months his health broke down, and he removed to Minnesota.
In 1886, he engaged in editorial work at Chicago, and in 1874 became pastor
of a church in Brooklyn, New York, to which he gave the name of the Church of
Christian Endeavor. The Hoosier Schoolmaster met with wide popularity
and was translated into several languages. It was followed by The
Mystery of Metropolisville (1873), with its setting in Minnesota, and
The Circuit Rider (1874), the scene of which is laid
in Ohio. Roxy (1878) and The
Graysons (1887) are again portrayals of Hoosier types.
The state of Indiana
has made a remarkable record in the literary history of the middle West. Lew
Wallace (1827-1905), the author of Ben Hur, was
a native of the state and made his home at Crawfordsville, the "Hoosier
Athens." He served in the Mexican War, and later in the Civil War, receiving
the rank of Major-General, for gallantry in the field. His first romance, The
Fair God (1873), was an Aztec story, the inspiration of which came from
the reading of Prescott's histories. Ben Hur, a Tale of the Christ (1880)
was the result of a conscientious study of the foundations of the Christian
faith. The author's treatment of his difficult subject is scholarly and reverent.
The popularity of the work has fairly rivaled that of Uncle Tom's Cabin.
General Wallace was appointed governor of New Mexico in 1878; and it was while
living at Santa Fé that he wrote the larger part of the romance. A later story,
The Prince of India (1893), was an outcome of Wallace's
residence at Constantinople as minister to Turkey.
Maurice Thompson (1844-1901), also a resident of Crawfordsville, has been mentioned already as
a writer of verse. He was a novelist as well, the author of several popular
stories, of which A Tallahasse Girl (1882) and Alice
of Old Vincennes (1900) are noteworthy. Among more recent writers who
have added to the literary reputation of the Hoosier state are: Newton
Booth Tarkington (born 1869), author of The Gentleman
from Indiana (1899), Monsieur Beaucaire (1900), The Two Vanrevels (1902), Cherry (1903), The Conquest of Canaan (1905), The
Turmoil (1915), together with the Penrod
stories and Seventeen; Charles
Major (1856-1913), whose very popular romance, When
Knighthood was in Flower, appeared in 1898; Meredith
Nicholson (born 1866), author of several romantic narratives of which The
House of a Thousand Candles (1905) and The Port of
Missing Men (1907) are prominent; and George Barr McCutcheon (born 1866), whose Graustark (1900), Craneycrow (1902), and Beverly of Graustark (1904) are best
known. Here also should be included the name of the versatile humorist
George Ade (born 1866), whose first literary successes, Artie,
Pink Marsh, Doc Horne, etc., were produced while Mr. Ade was writing on the staff of a Chicago newspaper (1890-1900).
The West in General.
Charles King (born at Albany, New York, 1844), a retired army officer, residing
in Milwaukee, is the author of a long list of tales, the material of which is
mainly drawn from military life. These include The Colonel's
Daughter (1883), The Deserter (1887), Captain
Blake (1892), The General's Double (1897),
and many more. Constance Fenimore Woolson (1848-1894),
a descendant of James Fenimore Cooper, was born in New Hampshire, but her home
in later life was at Cleveland, Ohio. Her summers were usually spent on the
shores of Lake Superior, or at Mackinac; she resided also in Florida. Her principal
novels are: Castle Nowhere (1875), Anne (1882), East
Angels (1886), and Jupiter Lights (1889). Mary
Hallock Foote (born in New York, 1847) lived for some years in Colorado,
California, and Idaho, accompanying her husband, a civil engineer. Her most
successful novels deal realistically with the life of the mining camp and the
hills. These are The Led Horse Claim (1883), John
Bodewin's Testimony (1886), and Coeur d' Alène (1894).
Hartwell Catherwood (1847-1902), a native of Ohio, later a resident of Illinois,
was the author of several interesting historical novels for the most part concerned
with historic epochs in the region of the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes,
and in the valleys of the Mississippi and the Illinois. It was The
Romance of Dollard (1889) which began the series of her works -- a series
which owed its inception to the fascinating narratives of Francis Parkman. Old
Kaskaskia (1893) and The White Islander (1893), The Lady of Fort St. John (1892) and The
Little Renault (1897) are vigorous narratives of romantic adventure.
Mrs. Catherwood's last work, Lazarre (1901), is based
on the tradition which identifies the Dauphin of France, who disappeared mysteriously
from Paris at the outbreak of the Revolution, with a lad in America who went
by the name of Eleazar Williams and was reputed of royal birth.
French, "Octave Thanet" (born in Massachusetts,
1850), is a resident of Davenport, Iowa. A part of the year she makes her home
in a quiet spot in Arkansas. Both places serve as setting in some of her stories.
Miss French is a realist; the relations between labor and capital have proved
interesting and effective material in her hands. Among her works are: Knitters
in the Sun (1887), Expiation (1890),
Otto the Knight (1893), Stories
of a Western Town (1893), The Heart of Toil (1898), The Man of the Hour (1905), The Lion's Share (1907), By Inheritance (1910), and A Step on the Stair (1913).
A Chicago group.
Blake Fuller (born at Chicago, 1857) has ably represented the western metropolis
in modern fiction. Beginning his literary career with two fantastic romances,
The Chevalier of Pensieri-Vani (1891) and The
Chatelaine of La Trinité, Mr. Fuller (1892) next appeared as a realistic
novelist of keen vision and serious purpose. He portrayed some interesting phases
of Chicago society in The Cliff Dwellers (1893),
and With the Procession (1895). The
Last Refuge (1901) is in line with his earlier volumes, romantic, whimsical,
and strongly symbolistic.
Hamlin Garland (born 1860), although a resident in the East, closely identified with Chicago,
is a realist in principle, although some of his more recent work is softened
by touches of romanticism. Mr. Garland's first publication, Main
Travelled Roads (1890), was a volume of short stories realistic and
somewhat cynical in tone. Jason Edwards (1891), A
Little Norsk (1891), A Spoil of Office (1892),
A Member of the Third House (1892), and Rose
of Dutcher's Coolly (1895) followed in similar vein. The
Eagle's Heart (1900), Her Mountain Lover (1901), The Captain of the Gray Horse Troop (1902),
and Hesper (1903) are all stories of the rugged,
unconventional life of mountain, mine, and camp, in which romance blends with
realism. A Son of the Middle Border (1917) and A
Daughter of the Middle Border (1921) are reminiscent of the author's
own boyhood in Wisconsin and of his literary career East and West.
Payne (born in Illinois, 1865), since 1890 a Chicago journalist and for
several years editor of The Economist, is the
author of numerous short stories and of several novels. Jerry
the Dreamer was published in 1896, The Story of Eva
in 1901. Two of Mr. Payne's realistic novels, The Money Captain (1898) and Mr. Salt (1903), are distinctively studies
of commercial life and admirable essays in this field.
Robert Herrick (born at Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1868), a Harvard man and, since 1893, a member
of the Faculty in the University of Chicago, holds a leading place among the
realists. Like Mr. Fuller, he has been impressed by certain phases of American
social life and has written somewhat sombre but carefully studied narratives
which have their setting in the great city of the middle West. These include
The Gospel of Freedom (1898), The
Web of Life (1900), The Common Lot (1904),
Together (1908), A Life for
a Life (1910), One Woman's Life (1913), and His
Great Adventure (1913).
One of the youngest
and one of the most promising in this group of western realists, Frank
Norris (1870-1902), was born at Chicago, but part of his life was spent
on the Pacific coast and another portion of it in New York. He was a journalist
and served as war correspondent in South Africa and Cuba. At the time of his
death he was a resident in California. His claim to distinction is found in
a projected series of three novels planned to embody his great idea, -- what
he called the epic of the wheat. The Octopus (1901)
is the first of the series and deals with the planting and harvesting of the
crop; its scene is laid in southern California. The Pit (1903) pictures the selling of the wheat, and dramatically portrays the life
which centres in the Chicago Board of Trade. The last book of the trilogy was
to have dealt with the distribution of the wheat in Europe, and would have been
entitled The Wolf, as symbolizing the experiences
of famine in Russia. Although uncompleted, the large conception of this young
enthusiast is worthy of more than passing note. In his realism Frank Norris
was a disciple of the French novelist, Zola. Theodore Dreiser (born 1871), a native of Indiana, has frankly followed the same model. Sister
Carrie (1900), Jennie Gerhardt (1911), The
Titan (1914), and The Genius (1915) are
Realism of a cruder
and more primitive type is found in the narratives of Jack
London (1876-1916), Californian, whose roving life and love of adventure
are reflected in The Son of the Wolf (1900), The
Call of the Wild (1903), The Sea Wolf (1904),
and Burning Daylight (1910).
The Short Story.
Attention has been
called to the prominence attained by the short story as a well-defined and important
development in American fiction. While most of our many writers of short stories
have also done notable work as novelists and are included in the list already
named, at least two are conspicuous as authors who never wrote novels at all.
These are Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914), and O.
Henry, whose real name was William Sydney Porter (1867-1910).
Ambrose Bierce, a Californian, wrote romantic tales of the grotesque and weird
type created by Poe. They appeared in periodicals, were collected and published
in three volumes: Tales of Soldiers and Civilians (1892), The Monk and the Hangman's Daughter (1892),
and Can Such Things Be? (1895). Sydney Porter (O.
Henry) was born in North Carolina, and, after a roving life, emerged in New
York in 1902 and became identified with the city -- not only as resident, but
as a keen observer and interpreter of its picturesque and varied types. The
stories of O. Henry, immensely popular but over-rated, doubtless, from the point
of view of literary art, were published in a collected edition of twelve volumes (Doubleday, 1912).
Over the Threshold.
With the passing
of twenty years, the majority of the novelists whose work was current at the
incoming of the century have passed from the stage, but not all. The Pulitzer
prize, awarded annually by a competent committee in New York City for the best
American novel of the year, was accorded in 1919 to Booth Tarkington's The
Magnificent Ambersons (1918) and in 1921 to his Alice
Adams. In 1920 it was given to Mrs. Edith Wharton's The
Age of Innocence. Mrs. Deland's vigorous novel, The
Vehement Flame, Mrs. Ellen Glasgow's One Man in His
Time, and Old Crow, by Alice
Brown, were among the books of 1922.
Meanwhile new writers
have found their place in the modern group. Among these the more notable are:
Mary Roberts Rinehart, author of The Circular
Staircase (1908), The Man in Lower Ten (1909),
Amazing Adventures of Letitia Carberry (1911),
The Amazing Interlude (1917) -- a war novel,
and many entertaining stories; Willa Siebert Cather (born
1875), whose Nebraska novels, O Pioneers (1913)
and My Antonia (1918), are admirable; Dorothy
Canfield Fisher (born 1879), author of The Squirrel Cage (1912), The Bent Twig (1915), and The
Brimming Cup (1921); Henry Kitchell Webster (born
1875), whose earlier material was drawn from the drama of commercial life, but
whose later work, represented by Real Life (1920)
and Mary Wollaston (1920), is eminently modern; Will
Levington Comfort (born 1878), a writer of tales of adventure like Routledge
Rides Alone (1910), and others with a more serious purpose, like She
Buildeth Her House (1911), Fate Knocks at the Door (1912), and Down Among Men (1913); James Branch Cabell (born 1879), whose art is at its best in The Line of Love (1905, 1921), The Cream of the Jest (1917), and Domnei (1920); Ernest
Poole (born 1880), author of the The Harbor (1915), His Family (1917), His
Second Wife (1918), and Blind (1920); Henry
Sydnor Harrison (born 1880), author of Queed (1911), V. V.'s Eyes (1913), and Saint
Teresa (1922); Joseph Hergesheimer (born 1880), whose
impressive story of The Three Black Pennys (1917)
was followed by the novel, Java Head, in 1919; and
Sinclair Lewis (born 1885), whose Main
Street (1920) presents a realistic study of "small town" life
Gene Stratton Porter (1868-1925) and Harold Bell Wright (born 1872) have a place
in popular esteem somewhat out of proportion to the literary merit of their
work. Mrs. Porter, whose home was in Indiana, a naturalist especially interested
in bird life, wrote A Girl of the Limberlost in
1909; subsequent novels, The Harvester (1911), Laddie (1913), and others have had an extended popularity. Harold Bell Wright, for
ten years a pastor of the Disciples (Christian Church) in Missouri and Kansas,
like his early prototype, Rev. E.P. Roe (1838-88), retired
from the ministry and began a career as a novelist. He had already laid the
foundations of his later success with That Printer of Udell's (1903) and The Shepherd of the Hills (1907). The
Calling of Dan Matthews (1909) and The Winning of
Barbara Worth (1911), together with later volumes, have numbered their
readers by thousands.
Books of Reference.
about our novelists and excellent criticism of their work will be found in A
History of American Literature Since 1870, by Fred Lewis Pattee (Century
Co., 1915) and in The American Novel and Contemporary American Novelists
1900-1920, by Carl Van Doren (Macmillan, 1921, 1922). Some American Story
Tellers, by Frederic Taber Cooper (Holt, 1911) and American Short Story
Writers, by Blanche Colton Williams (Moffat, Yard, 1920) are also helpful.