Monday, December 24, 2012

Countdown to Christmas 2012: Year-End Round-Up

(from The Book of Days)
So this Christmas countdown degenerated into a pair of advent book-ends. But hey, as Scrooge teaches us, it's never too late to make amends and there's still time for a Christmas round-up featuring some of my favourite subjects from the inaugural year of American Scrapbook. Is it a coincidence that they've all written on Christmas?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Thanksgiving Triptych

"More Turkey", from "Thanksgiving in the Country", Scribner's, December 1871
In a different world this would be a more elaborate post - or, since we're making believe, a whole series of posts - on Thanksgiving in nineteenth century literature, with an emphasis on sentimental and local-color writing and, in particular, the work of Rose Terry Cooke, who seems to have had a particular fondness for the holiday. But hey, time flies! So instead, for your enjoyment, and without further comment, here's a triptych of Thanksgiving stories by prominent Gilded Age women writers that fit that description:
  1. Louisa May Alcott, "An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving", from Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag, Volume 6 (1882).
  2. Harriet Prescott Spofford, "A Thanksgiving Breakfast", Harper's New Monthly Magazine (December 1895).
  3. Rose Terry Cooke, "How Celia Changed Her Mind", from Huckleberries Gathered from New England Hills (1891) (and make sure to check out the table of contents - two other stories with Thanksgiving in the title!).
If you're after some more context for these nineteenth-century Thanksgiving stories, this History Kitchen post comes recommended.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Countdown to Halloween: "'Twas the Night of All Hallows", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1865

It's the first Halloween after the Civil War - and is a changing Halloween sensibility discernible in the way that the Brooklyn Daily Eagle marked the day?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Countdown to Halloween: The Civil War

"Jeff Davis Reaping the Harvest", Harper's Weekly, October 26, 1861 (via Library of Congress)
Halloween during the Civil War: where real and imaginary horrors meet.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Countdown to Halloween: E. D. E. N. Southworth, "The Spectre Revels" (1860)

From E.D.E.N Southworth's The Haunted Homestead: and Other Nouvellettes (1860)
On the verge of the Civil War, E.D.E.N Southworth provides us with a haunted house story set on Halloween - and, you might be relieved to discover, there's not a love spell or a pumpkin in sight.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Countdown to Halloween: Susan Fenimore Cooper's Rural Hours (1850); or, more pumpkins...

"October" - harvesting pumpkins - from Appletons' Journal, 1869
"The following notes contain, in a journal form, the simple record of those little events which make up the course of the seasons in rural life, and were commenced two years since, in the spring of 1848, for the writer's amusement." So begins Susan Fenimore Cooper's delightful Rural Hours (1850).

Friday, October 19, 2012

Countdown to Halloween: John Greenleaf Whittier's "The Pumpkin" (1846)

"The Pumpkin Effigy", from Harper's Weekly, November 23, 1867, reprinted in The Ladies' Floral Cabinet, 1875 (via)
The first sight of a pumpkin on this countdown, and what's Halloween without a few pumpkins?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Countdown to Halloween: Nathaniel Covington Brooks, "Clara Lawson; or, The Rustic Toilet" (1836)

Today's story: the curiously named "Clara Lawson; or, The Rustic Toilet", written by Nathaniel Covington Brooks and published in Godey's Lady's Book in 1836, available here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Countdown to Halloween: William Harrison Ainsworth's Rookwood (1834)

George Cruikshank, "The Vault", from William Harrison Ainsworth's Rookwood (1834)
A smooth transition from my last post on Walter Scott, because in so many ways William Harrison Ainsworth was a follower of the Wizard of the North.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Countdown to Halloween: Walter Scott's Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft (1830)

George Cruikshank, "Witches Frolic"
Last time, we saw an example of Walter Scott in Gothic mode early in his writing career. Today, it's one of his lesser known publications from the end of his life and career - though an equally fitting choice for Halloween.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Countdown to Halloween: Robert Burns, "Halloween" (1785)

From The Book of Days: A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities (1832)
I'm starting my Countdown to Halloween with Robert Burns' "Halloween" (1785). Why? Because throughout the first half of the nineteenth century there was no more influential account of Halloween entertainments.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Belated Happy Birthday, Walter Scott

I missed Walter Scott's birthday - August 15th, for those of you who want to send a card next year. If this had been 1871 instead of 2012, I probably wouldn't have made that mistake.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

On the New Orleans Times-Picayune

Sad news out of New Orleans: last night, the New York Times reported that the Times-Picayune looks set to face severe cuts, including the loss of a daily edition. Gambit covers the reaction here. This is depressing for a whole hosts of reasons, not least because the paper, in one form or another, has been a vital part of city life (and literature) for 175 years.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Kipling and America

Kipling, at home in Vermont
I've been reading some Kipling recently, for circuitous reasons (mainly Peter Bellamy), and it's highlighted to me just how much of a Kipling-dunce I really am.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Reading the Fall of New Orleans

William Waud, "Landing of Captain Bailey and Lieutenant Perkins on the Levee, New Orleans [. . .] to Demand the Surrender of the City", from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated History of the Civil War (New York: Mrs. Frank Leslie, 1895)
A century and a half ago, Confederate New Orleans was on the brink of surrendering to a Union naval force under the command of David Glasgow Farragut. As well as being a pivotal episode in the Civil War, it was a moment that left a rich literary record.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Louisa May Alcott and Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué

Another post, another youthful Gilded Age reader. I must have perused the opening passages of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women (1868-9) a good handful of times by now, and every time one moment has given me pause.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Reading of a Bad Boy

Following on from Charles Dudley Warner's fireplace reveries, another postbellum scene of reading.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"The wizard harp of the North" and International Copyright

So it appears that posts on international copyright in the nineteenth century are like buses: you wait and wait and then two come along at once.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Narrative of the Life and Travels of John Robert Shaw, The Well-Digger (1807)

Reading John Jeremiah Sullivan's wonderful Blood Horses recently, I was delighted to be introduced to the extraordinary misadventures of John Robert Shaw, Well-Digger, pictured above sans a few body parts. I was equally delighted to discover that his madcap 1807 autobiography is available in full here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Walter Scott in The Gilded Age

Teaching Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner's The Gilded Age (1873) this week for the first time in a few years, I was interested to find early evidence of Twain's apparently profound and persistent dislike of Walter Scott (the kind of thing that would find much fuller and franker expression in, say, Life on the Mississippi (1883)).