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E.D.E.N. Southworth

Recovering a Nineteenth-Century Popular Novelist

Melissa Homestead

Publication Year: 2013

The prolific nineteenth-century writer E. D. E. N. Southworth enjoyed enormous public success in her day—she published nearly fifty novels during her career—but that very popularity, combined with her gender, led to her almost complete neglect by the critical establishment before the emergence of academic feminism. Even now, most scholarship on Southworth focuses on her most famous novel, The Hidden Hand. However, this new book—the first since the 1930s devoted entirely to Southworth—shows the depth of her career beyond that publication and reassesses her place in American literature.
    Editors Melissa Homestead and Pamela Washington have gathered twelve original essays from both established and emerging scholars that set a new agenda for the study of E. D. E. N. Southworth’s works. Following an introduction by the editors, these articles are divided into four thematic clusters. The first, “Serial Southworth,” treats her fiction in periodical publication contexts. “Southworth’s Genres,” the second grouping, considers her use of a range of genres beyond the sentimental novel and the domestic novel. In the third part, “Intertextual Southworth,” the essays present intensive case studies of Southworth’s engagement with literary traditions such as Greek and Restoration drama and with her contemporaries such as Harriet Beecher Stowe and French novelist George Sand. Southworth’s focus on social issues and reform figures prominently throughout the volume, but the pieces in the fourth section, “Southworth, Marriage, and the Law,” present a sustained inquiry into the ways in which marriage law and the status of women in the nineteenth century engaged her literary imagination.
    The collection concludes with the first chronological bibliography of Southworth’s fiction organized by serialization date rather than book publication. For the first time, scholars will be able to trace the publication history of each novel and will be able to access citations for lesser-known and previously unknown works.
    With its fresh approach, this volume will be of great value to students and scholars of American literature, women’s studies, and popular culture studies.

MELISSA J. HOMESTEAD is the Susan J. Rosowski Associate Professor of English at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Her book American Women Authors and Literary Property, 1822–1869 includes Southworth, and her articles on American women’s writing have been published in a variety of academic journals.

PAMELA T. WASHINGTON is Professor of English and former dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Central Oklahoma. She is the co-author of Fresh Takes: Explorations in Reading and Writing: A Freshman Composition Text.

Published by: The University of Tennessee Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

The symposium out of which this collection grew received financial support from the English Department and Nineteenth-Century Studies Program at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Central Oklahoma. Paul Erickson, Director of Scholarly Programs, arranged for the American Antiquarian Society to give us a meeting space and logistical support. ...


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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xxviii

In early 1901, Willa Cather visited Prospect Cottage in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., the longtime home of the recently deceased novelist Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte (E. D. E. N.) Southworth. Born in Washington, D.C., in 1819 to southern parents (her father from Virginia, her mother from Maryland), ...

Part I: Serial Southworth

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E. D. E. N. Southworth’s Serial Novels Retribution and The Mother-in-Law as Vehicles for the Cause of Abolition in the National Era: Setting the Stage for Uncle Tom’s Cabin

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pp. 1-24

E. D. E. N. Southworth began serializing short fiction in the National Era1 in the first year of its existence (1847) and had serialized her first novel, Retribution, and two others, The Mother-in-Law and Hickory Hall, in the abolitionist newspaper before the serial appearance of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s first novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, in the Era in 1851–52.2 ...

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An Exclusive Engagement: The Personal and Professional Negotiations of Vivia

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pp. 25-48

On December 26, 1869, Emma D. E. N. Southworth wrote a gushing thank-you letter for a Christmas present she received from a gentleman friend. The generous gift prompted her to recall her initial encounter with him: “The first day that you entered my little cottage was a day, blessed beyond all the other days of my life.”1 ...

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The Hidden Agenda of Hidden Hand: Periodical Publication and the Literary Marketplace in Late-Nineteenth-Century America

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pp. 49-74

During her lifetime, E. D. E. N. Southworth was one of the most famous American authors in the world. Between 1846, when her first story appeared in the Baltimore Saturday Visiter, and her death in 1899, Southworth wrote more novels than Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Mark Twain combined, with Harriet Beecher Stowe added for good measure. ...

Part II: Southworth’s Genres

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Illustrating Southworth: Genre, Conventionality, and The Island Princess

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pp. 77-106

While E. D. E. N. Southworth is not precisely canonical, she no longer “hardly exist[s],” as critic Alfred Habegger wrote in 1981.1 Contemporary scholars have considered the racial and gender politics of her work and her status as a lady novelist.2 One aspect that has been largely ignored is the visual material that accompanied her periodical writing, ...

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Maniac Brides Southworth’s Sensational and Gothic Transformations

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pp. 107-128

In Hickory Hall: Or the Outcast (1850; later The Prince of Darkness, 1869), when Regina Fairchild learns that her new husband not only has black blood but is also a slave, she recoils in horror from him. Her brother, who is narrating the story, calls his beloved sister, whom he had once likened to a queen, a “maniac bride.”1 ...

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Change of a Dress: Britomarte, the Man-Hater and Other Transvestite Narratives of the Civil War

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pp. 129-152

In the letter to New York Ledger publisher Bonner quoted in this chapter’s epigraph, Southworth describes the events leading up to and including the battle of Manassas. From her “excellent” vantage point on the porch of Prospect Cottage, her Georgetown home, Southworth could see to the opposite side of the Potomac River, ...

Part III: Intertextual Southworth

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E. D. E. N. Southworth: An “American George Sand”?

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pp. 155-182

If the Southern Literary Messenger were the arbiter of reputation, E. D. E. N. Southworth would have been damned as the American George Sand. The magazine awarded her some part of “the doubtful honors of a Dudevant” beginning with The Deserted Wife, “a work of the very worst description of the loose-tunic and guilty-passion school” of “French sentimentalism.”1 ...

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Revising Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Sympathy, the State, and the Role of Women in E. D. E. N.Southworth’s The Lost Heiress

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pp. 183-204

Following its 1853 serialization in The Saturday Evening Post and its 1854 publication in book form, E. D. E. N. Southworth’s The Lost Heiress was highly lauded by critics, who predicted that it would become one of her best-known works.1 For example, the National Era proclaimed it as “the best, we think, from Mrs. Southworth’s prolific pen,” ...

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E. D. E. N. Southworth’s Tragic Muse

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pp. 205-218

E. D. E. N. Southworth is well known for happily resolved novels that blend adventure and sentimentalism, such as The Hidden Hand (1859) and Britomarte, the Man-Hater (1865–66). In these narratives, Southworth conveys a hopeful worldview: confidence that destiny can be molded by heroic action, that immoral behavior is a function of comprehensible human weakness ...

IV. Southworth, Marriage, and the Law

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Poe, Southworth, and the Antebellum Wife

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pp. 221-242

In an often-overlooked moment in the 1838 story “Ligeia,” Edgar Allan Poe’s narrator remarks on the money that came to him from his first wife. “I had no lack of what the world calls wealth,” he explains, for “Ligeia had brought me far more, very far more than ordinarily falls to the lot of mortals.”1 ...

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E. D. E. N. Southworth’s Reimagining of the Married Women’s Property Reforms

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pp. 243-264

Throughout her storied and prolific fiction-writing career, E. D. E. N. Southworth expressed deep skepticism about the legal system’s ability to produce justice, particularly for women. Critics often point to her notoriously difficult marriage as a likely source of this skepticism.1 Her husband, Frederick, abandoned her and their two children in 1844 in order to chase fortune in the Brazilian gold rush ...

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“What Did You Mean?” The Language of Marriage in The Fatal Marriage and Family Doom

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pp. 265-284

The problem of marriage in E. D. E. N. Southworth is intimately linked to the ambiguities of language. “What did you mean?”—a quotation taken from Southworth’s Maiden Widow—is a refrain that runs throughout many of Southworth’s novels in which marriage is a continual topic of conversation and confusion. ...

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A Chronological Bibliography of E. D. E. N. Southworth’s Works Privileging Periodical Publication

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pp. 285-306

Previous attempts at a comprehensive bibliography of E. D. E. N. Southworth’s fiction have organized her works alphabetically by book title or chronologically by book publication date.1 Serialization information—if included at all—is subordinated to book entries or listed separately. ...

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pp. 307-310

Charlene Avallone is an independent scholar, having served on the faculties of the Universities of Notre Dame and Hawaii. Her publications treat early U.S. writers—Catharine Sedgwick, Margaret Fuller, Elizabeth Peabody, and Herman Melville, among others—as well as the gender and racial limitations of the American Renaissance critical tradition. ...


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pp. 311-317

E-ISBN-13: 9781572339255
E-ISBN-10: 157233925X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781572338678
Print-ISBN-10: 1572338679

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 828490614
MUSE Marc Record: Download for E.D.E.N. Southworth

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Subject Headings

  • Southworth, Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte, -- 1819-1899 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Southworth, Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte, 1819-1899 -- Political and social views.
  • Women and literature -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
  • Social values in literature.
  • Literature and society -- United States -- History.
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