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Domestic Biographies

Stowe, Howells, James, and Wharton at Home


Elif S. Armbruster

Domestic Biographies: Stowe, Howells, James, and Wharton at Home presents comparative domestic biographies of four American Realist writers: Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Dean Howells, Henry James, and Edith Wharton. Drawing upon extensive primary sources to reconstruct the authors’ private lives, Domestic Biographies illuminates how they lived when no one was looking. In particular this book examines how the authors worked and wrote at home and how their home life in turn made its way into their novels and non-fiction. Domestic Biographies offers an innovative and exciting architectural and domestic lens through which to study the lives and literature of America’s best-known Realists.


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Epilogue: Where the Houses Stand Today 140


EPILOGUE Where the Houses Stand Today In spite of each individual’s inevitable impermanence, architecture can offer permanent testimony to the past. Though the lives of the four authors discussed in this book were transient, often restless, and collectively involved moves to eight states, three countries, and over forty properties, a remarkable number of their dwellings still stand. In Cambridge today, one can follow a path—as I have many times— from Howells’s first house at 41 Sacramento Street, across Massachusetts Avenue to 3 Berkeley Street, and around the corner to 37 Concord Avenue. From there, one can take the commuter rail or walk, as Howells and James did, to Belmont and peer through the woods to Redtop, still standing in all its glory, meticulously maintained by its current proud owners. Or, one can take Interstate 95 along the Connecticut coastline into Rhode Island, and drive by Wharton’s former Pencraig Cottage on Harrison Avenue and Land’s End, both in the still-prominent resort town of Newport, and made dignified by the work of Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman, Jr. One can drive north from Boston to the Stone Cabin in Andover, Massachusetts, where Stowe displayed the wares of her travels in Europe in the 1850s, and where the current Dean of Students of Phillips Academy resides. Drive further north and east, and the tourist will find the solid white Greek Revival house in Brunswick, Maine, where Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and the cottage in Kittery Point, Maine, where Howells spent the...

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