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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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Notes 147


NOTES Introduction 1. In informal studies I have conducted in the undergraduate liberal arts classroom, I have found that many of my students believe a black woman wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. No student I have encountered in six years of teaching has been able to cite another title by Stowe. 2. These two books examine the private lives of groups of authors but do not expose an overriding preoccupation with the home. See Samuel Schreiner, Jr., The Concord Quartet: Alcott, Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau, and the Friendship that Freed the American Mind (New York: Wiley, 2006) and Susan Cheever, American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006). 3. See Eric Hobsbawm’s trilogy of the “long nineteenth century,” which became a defining work of his chosen period, from 1789 to 1914: The Age of Revolution (1962), The Age of Capital (1975), and The Age of Empire (1987). On the professionalization of an American domestic architecture, there are a number of useful sources to consult, including, but not limited to, Dell Upton’s “Pattern Books and Professionalism: Aspects of the Transformation of Domestic Architecture in America, 1800–1860,” Winterthur Portfolio 19 (Summer/Autumn 1984) and Mary Woods’ From Craft to Profession: The Practice of Architecture in Nineteenth-Century America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999). On the professionalization of authorship, see Lawrence Buell, New England Literary Culture: From Revolution to Renaissance (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University...

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