Friday, May 31, 2013

November: 19th-century American women writers read-along

I’ve been reading Truth’s Ragged Edge: The Rise of the American Novel by Philip F. Gura and while it’s been enjoyable (more posts on that later) it has highlighted a huge gap in my reading. For anyone interested in the topic I highly recommend it, and for a taste of it go to one of the big online sellers to read the preface and Macmillan’s site for the first chapter. I realized I don’t think I have read more than one or two novels by a 19th-century American woman and I don’t think I’m alone in this. To remedy that, as a start, I’m planning on reading and posting on a few novels in November.

Here are a few authors and their works mentioned in the preface and first chapter. I haven’t started looking at availability but I think it’s a good starting point, which I’ll update as November approaches. If any of these interest you, please don’t feel like you have to wait until November to post on them. Just let me know you have covered something that qualifies in a post and I’ll include it in a round-up post. The topics cover many of the major topics of the day and several were bestsellers. The timeline and classification are loose (Gura effectively stops in the 1870s and several of Hannah Webster Foster ‘s and Susanna Rowson’s books were published a few years before 1800).

Catharine Maria Sedgwick
     Links to works

Lydia Maria Child
     Works at The Online Books Page
     eTexts at UVA

Susan Warner
     The Wide, Wide World
     Works at Project Gutenberg

Maria Cummins
     The Lamplighter at Internet Archive (and audiobook at LibriVox)

Harriet Beecher Stowe
     Works at The Online Books Page

Lillie Devereux Blake
     A Notable Woman: Lillie Devereux Blake at H-Net

Elizabeth Stoddard
     The Morgesons at Project Gutenberg
      Works at Project Gutenberg

Rebecca Harding Davis
     Margret Howth: A Story of Today at University of Virginia Library
     Works at Washington State University

Elizabeth Stuart Phelps
     Works at Project Gutenberg

Sarah Wentworth Apthorp Morton

Susanna Rowson
     Charlotte: A Tale of Truth at Project Gutenberg
     Rebecca; or, The Fille de Chambre
     Reuben and Rachel

Hannah Webster Foster
     The Coquette at Project Gutenberg
     The History of Eliza Wharton: a Novel Founded Fact
     The Boarding School; or, Lessons of a Preceptress to her Pupils

Tabitha Tenney
     Female Quixotism, Exhibited in the Romantic Opinions and Extravagant Adventures of Dorcasina Sheldon

Sally Wood
     Dorval; or The Speculator

Caroline Matilda Warren Thayer
     The Gamesters; or, Ruins of Innocence

Rebecca Rush

Leonora Sansay
     Secret History; or, The Horrors of St. Domingo
     "Reconstructing Leonora Sanay", an essay by Jennifer van Bergen

(to be updated)


Jean said...

Wow. I'm good at 19th century women novelists, but apparently not American ones. My American lit is all-over terrible. To my shame, I've only read Harriet Beecher Stowe off that list, and all I can think of to add is Louisa May Alcott. Guess I'd better join up in November...

Dwight said...

Stowe, Alcott, and Dickinson are the obvious ones that people have usually read. Some of these I had heard of but knew nothing about. Some of them sound pretty interesting from the descriptions in Gura's book.

I'm sure I'll run into more books to list here and I'll provide links to what's available online. Also, there are several 19th century experts in the book blog community I hope will chime in with their recommendations.

Brian Joseph said...

I too am horribly deficient when it comes to this group of writers.

I like that you are planning so far ahead. I will try to join in.

Dwight said...

Look forward to it Brian. I didn't mean to have it so far out but I remembered Winstondad's Blog has Polish Lit month in October, something I plan on participating in since I have so many unread books by Polish author in a nearby stack.

And I'm hoping others will join in...I'm hoping several people will read and post on at least one book so we can have a nice resource page.

Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

Gura doesn't actually argue that these are all good, does he?

One reason I enjoy literary history so much, books like Gura's, is that they fill me in on books that I will never, ever read.

Dwight said...

Gura's approach, so far in my reading, isn't good vs. bad. Looking at what was influential, definitely. And how much it fits into his over-arching theme: how many of these works are outside simple moralizing and examine class, industrialization, race, social realism, civic duty, or spiritual development. Something that, at least for what I've been led to expect, wasn't as widespread in American literature at this time, not to mention popular or bestsellers. And yeah, there is some gothic and lesser stuff in there, too...although many things from these genres aren't available online.

So far it's an amazing work.

scott g.f.bailey said...

I am wondering how I never read HB Stowe, so this November, I'll see about her book for this read-a-long. Hopefully I'll find time to see about some of the other books you list.

Dwight said...

Would love to have you Scott. To AR's point, they may not all be good but I'm thinking I may pick a couple from a certain theme...slavery or industrialization...and go with those. We'll see. I'll try and provide more info on each of these as it gets closer.