Elizabeth Barstow Stoddard (1823-1902) is an American writer, who was encouraged by Longfellow, praised by Hawthorne and Howells and who occasioned an uncharacteristically angry outburst by Henry James. Her three novels, The Morgesons, Two Men and Temple House, were well reviewed but did not sell, went out of print after her death and were forgotten until 1968. Since that time her value has been gradually recognized and there is a growing body of criticism of her work.
This book is the first full-length, critical study of all of Stoddard’s work and the first to give full value to her largely unknown and often neglected series of articles published in the newspaper, The Daily Alta California (1854-58). The Daily Alta California articles serve as a basis for the analysis of Stoddard's character and thought. The chapters on her novels trace her development from a reader-friendly columnist who informed, amused and flattered her audience, to a novelist whose books are marked by a «savage violence», a violence that takes a different form in each novel and represents Stoddard’s most distinct characteristic.