Frank Norris Remembered
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: The University of Alabama Press
Series: American Writers Remembered
List of Illustrations
For services of various kinds, all of which immeasurably contributed to our research, we thank the following: Anthony Bliss, curator, Rare Books and Library Collections, and Susan Snyder, head, Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley; Sara S. Hodson, curator, Literary Manuscripts,...
When the distressing news of the premature death of Frank Norris reached his uncle in Lincoln, Nebraska, on November 22, 1902, William Alfred Doggett delivered a brief summary of his impressions of his nephew as a youth to a reporter: “The boy was inclined to be melancholy. At times he was full of activity...
Part 1. Childhood and Youth: Chicago, San Francisco, and Paris, 1870–90
Frank Norris’s infancy and youth, spent amid sumptuous surroundings in Chicago, are documented in census reports, academic catalogs, city directories, school texts, newspaper articles, personal books, church records, and even dance programs. He was clearly born to the manner. But aside from meager comments by...
1. Philip King Brown
A native Californian, Philip King Brown (1869–1940) was a member of the first class to graduate in 1886 from Belmont School for Boys, which Frank Norris also attended for a short time in 1885. Belmont’s founder, William Thomas Reid (1843–1922), a former teacher at Boys’ High School in San Francisco, retired as...
2. Louis W. Neustadter
As a boy, Louis William Neustadter (1873–1968), whose family were wealthy members of San Francisco’s Jewish community, lived at 1701 Van Ness Avenue, just around the corner from Norris’s family. When he was only eighteen, Neustadter entered employment at his father’s firm, Neustadter Brothers, purveyors of...
3. Charles G. Norris
The unexpected death from diphtheria of their brother, Albert Lester Norris (1877–1887), in part accounts for a closeness between Norris and his surviving brother, Charles Gilman Norris (1881–1945), that under more normal circumstance would most likely not have obtained: with eleven years between them...
4. Ernest C. Peixotto
Possibly Norris’s oldest friend, Ernest Clifford Peixotto (1869–1945) met him when they were both students at the California School of Design in 1886. A mutual love of horses led them to the Presidio, where they spent hours perfecting the rudiments of drawing from life by sketching them there. Nor did their budding...
5. M. C. Sloss
Like Peixotto and Neustadter, Marcus Cauffman Sloss (1869–1958) was a member of one of San Francisco’s prominent Jewish families. First acquainted with Norris at Belmont School for Boys, where he was in its first graduating class, Sloss later consorted with Norris at gatherings of both the group of bons vivants...
Part 2. College Years: Berkeley and Cambridge, 1890–95
As formative of Norris’s character as his childhood, if not more so, were his college years at the University of California. There he embarked on a fairly traditional four-year course of study followed by a year at Harvard College, with neither experience resulting in a degree. Nevertheless, if the recollections of fraternity...
6. Thomas R. Bacon
As an associate professor at the University of California and former Congregationalist minister, Thomas Rutherford Bacon (1850–1913) taught Norris in four history courses, in none of which he distinguished himself, receiving a 2 or B as a second- semester sophomore in Nineteenth-Century History, a 3 or C the...
7. Louis Bartlett
Louis de Fontenay Bartlett (1872–1960), though he only knew Norris slightly at Berkeley, seems, like many of those who came in contact with him during his college years, nonetheless to have remembered him, and not just in passing. What is interesting about Bartlett’s unsolicited letter to Walker is that having...
8. Gelett Burgess
Although an instructor in topographical drawing at the University of California (1891–94) when Norris first met him, Frank Gelett Burgess (1866–1951) in many ways acted the part of student rather than faculty member. His diaries record frequent late-night dinners with various students, “hours of nonsense” with others...
9. Eleanor M. Davenport
Norris had much in common with Eleanor Mack Davenport (1874–1941): they both began their studies at the University of California as “special” students, meaning that they had not yet declared a course of study; both eagerly sought the rewards of an active college social life; and both manifested an interest in...
10. Stanly A. Easton
Stanly Alexander Easton (1873–1961) graduated from the University of California in 1894. In different college fraternities—Easton, like Hull McClaughry and Frank M. Todd, was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon—Norris and Easton seldom crossed paths socially in college, but they would certainly have known...
11. George C. Edwards
George Cunningham Edwards (1852–1930) was the last of a trio of professors at the University of California who wrote tributes to their former student, immediately following his death; of these only his and that by Thomas R. Bacon qualify as reminiscences, while in the third William D. Armes treats Norris’s literary...
12. Wallace W. Everett
As a freshman Fiji during Norris’s senior year at Berkeley, a writer for Sunset extolling the virtues of motoring in such far-flung locales as northern California and the Rhine Valley, a publisher of an esoteric newspaper with the unlikely title of Lumber Journal, and a fruiterer in California’s famed Napa Valley, Wallace...
13. George Gibbs
Unlike the majority of Norris’s classmates at the University of California, George Gibbs (1871–?) hailed not from California but from the Midwest, listing Chicago as his hometown at his graduation from the university in 1895. Owner of Gibbs Steel Company in Milwaukee (“Ode on a Grecian Yearn” 1963, 17), he...
14. Ralph L. Hathorn
Having been impressed with Norris when the two first met in December 1890, during Norris’s first semester at Berkeley (see Everett, chapter 12 this volume), Ralph LaForest Hathorn (1870–1943) attempted to generate enthusiasm for his election to Phi Gamma Delta. Failing to muster enough support for his candidate,...
15. Albert J. Houston
Possessed of funds ample enough to dress like a fashionable boulevardier, increasingly successful as a writer of both serious and more whimsical works, a favorite with not only his fellow Fijis but also students generally, liked by many professors even when he did not fare well in some of their courses, Norris cut a broad swath...
16. H. Hull McClaughry
Different in many ways, Harry Hull McClaughry (1870–?) and Norris nonetheless developed a vital friendship in college. A year ahead of Norris, McClaughry, as captain of Cadet Company A, evidently approached Berkeley’s military science requirement more seriously than did his friend. President of his class during...
17. Ariana Moore
One of fewer than twenty-five women in Norris’s college class, Ariana Moore (1870–1963) from Carpinteria, California, entered the university in the literary course of study. A scholar of some distinction, she received a Phebe Hearst Scholarship, one of two given in 1894, the year the award was established by...
18. Jessica B. Peixotto
Although Jessica Blanche Peixotto (1864–1941) was several years older than Norris, she did not enter college until 1891, a year after him. As a young woman, she had followed her family’s suggestion that she not pursue further education beyond high school, but her acquaintance with Norris, friend of her brother Ernest,...
19. Harry W. Rhodes
Like many of Norris’s friends in college, Harry Willet Rhodes (1870–1947) belonged to Norris’s fraternity, which provided a ready field in which an association between them could take firm root. Rhodes’s recollection of a limerick Norris wrote in one of “Uncle Joe” Le Conte’s classes preserves an early example of...
20. Leon J. Richardson
While Leon Josiah Richardson (1868–1964) never officially taught Norris at Berkeley, as a teaching assistant he often acted as a substitute instructor in courses taught by his cousin, George Morey Richardson (1859–1896), from whom Norris...
21. Maurice V. Samuels
A member of Norris’s class at Berkeley, Maurice Victor Samuels (1873–1945) was one of his few friends not in Phi Gamma Delta. As recalled by Charles Norris, Samuels, Norris, and Myron Wolf were together so much as freshmen on campus that their classmates dubbed them the Three Guardsmen, an allusion to Dumas’s...
22. Edward A. Selfridge Jr.
Both Edward Augustus Selfridge Jr. (1872–1936) and Norris pledged Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity at the end of their freshman year in college. Selfridge, who began his association with the military as a student at the university, eventually being promoted to cadet lieutenant colonel, was also a member of the Banjo Club and...
23. Frank M. Todd
Probably Norris’s most articulate classmate was Frank Morton Todd (1871– 1940). Although not members of the same fraternity—like Hull McClaughry and Stanly Easton, Todd was in Delta Kappa Epsilon—they shared interests at Berkeley, for Todd was editor-in-chief of the 1894 Blue and Gold for which...
24. Seymour Waterhouse
Norris’s first roommate in the Fiji house at Berkeley was Seymour Waterhouse (1871–1949). Waterhouse, a serious student, graciously performed the role of straight man to Norris’s more exuberant japes, in the process acquiring a variety of nicknames, two of which Norris himself originated, “Doodle” (see Selfridge...
25. Benjamin Weed
With a common interest in literature generally and drama in particular, Benjamin Weed (1869–1941) and Norris could easily have been natural college comrades. Yet such was not the case. Although Weed was not one of Norris’s intimates, both served as class officers during their junior year, Weed as president and Norris...
26. Harry M. Wright
One of Norris’s earliest friends, their friendship dating from their student days at San Francisco Boys’ High School, was Harry Manville Wright (1872–1947). Wright, a member of Phi Gamma Delta, Skull and Keys, and the editorial board of The Berkeleyan, was a proverbial big man on campus: he attained the highest...
Part 3. Apprenticeship: San Francisco and South Africa, 1895–98
Seven contributors afford insights into Norris’s relatively brief literary apprenticeship during which he doggedly pursued his craft as a correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle writer and assistant editor for The Wavein San Francisco, and novelist whose Moran of the Lady Letty first appeared serially in the...
27. John O. Cosgrave
Norris first met John O’Hara Cosgrave (1866–1947) at the end of 1891 when he began submitting some of his earliest work to The Wave, then owned and edited by Cosgrave, who had previously been on the staff of the Alta Californian under the flamboyant and outspoken John Powell Irish (1843–1923) and later...
28. Porter Garnett
Under normal circumstances Norris and Kennedy Porter Garnett (1871–1951) might have been poised to become great friends rather than merely acquaintances who moved in similar circles and thus had other friends in common. For as an artist, writer, fine printer, librarian, illustrator, and bookbinder, Garnett clearly...
29. Will Irwin
While William Henry Irwin (1873–1948) and Norris met only once and thus could hardly be termed friends or perhaps even acquaintances, Irwin, by his own admission in a brief note to Jeannette when Norris died, felt great admiration for Norris as both writer and man. Irwin had good reason to admire Norris,...
30. Bailey Millard
In his extensive memoir Frank Bailey Millard (1859–1941) neglects to mention the first interaction he and Norris had, when in January 1897 Norris responded to Millard, then “Literary Editor” of the San Francisco Examiner, who had written a three-part series discussing possible candidates for the honor of the “great...
31. Jeannette Norris
As members of San Francisco society’s upper crust, Norris and his future wife, Jeannette Williamson Black (1878–1952), should have had ample opportunity to meet each other long before they did in the fall of 1896, though an eight-year difference in their ages easily accounts for this. What Jeannette characterizes as...
32. Bruce Porter
To term Bruce (Edmund Cushman) Porter (1865–1953) a Renaissance man hardly stretches the truth, for as a painter, stained glass artist, landscape architect and designer, art critic, writer, sculptor, muralist, decorator, and aesthete, he involved himself in much of the artistic life of San Francisco for several decades...
33. Bertha Rickoff
A self-styled journalist—on the 1920 census she listed her occupation as “writer” for a “magazine”—Bertha Monroe Rickoff (1862–?) proved more a nemesis for Norris and at least one of his fraternity brothers, Harry M. Wright, than a friend (see Crisler 1986, 75–76). Her claim of confidante to Gertrude may indeed have...
Part 4. Professional Years: New York, Cuba, Chicago, and San Francisco, 1898–1902
When Norris left San Francisco in the late winter of 1898, ostensibly to report on Mardi Gras in New Orleans but, of more personal consequence, to visit Jeannette, then studying at Monticello Female Seminary in Godfrey, Illinois, he had little idea that his departure from his second home state would be permanent....
34. James F. J. Archibald
Journalist James Francis Jewel Archibald (1871–1934) did not attend the University of California with Norris but had made his acquaintance by, at the latest, 1893 when he was with members of the Norris family in Chicago at the World’s Columbian Exposition. While his relationship with Norris continued...
35. Raine Bennett
During his long life Raine E. Bennett (1891–1981) was a reporter, editor, playwright, poet, and radio journalist. Born in San Francisco to John E. Bennett (1863–?), an attorney, and his wife, Emma J. (1862–?), he founded the Western Arts Association there, worked for the San Francisco Chronicle, and edited...
36. Dulce Bolado Davis
Having acquired by 1867 nearly 100,000 acres of Quien Sabe and Santa Ana, adjoining land-grant ranchos in San Benito County, California, Joaquin Bolado (1822–1894) lost little time in creating Santa Anita Ranch out of them, which his only daughter, Julia Dulce Bolado Ashe Davis (1873–1952), inherited. Beautiful...
37. Frank N. Doubleday
Frank Nelson Doubleday (1862–1934) ended his relationship with the book and magazine publishing firm of Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1897 to cofound with S. S. McClure the Doubleday & McClure Co. By late 1899, however, they had dissolved their partnership, and Doubleday formed a new company with former...
38. Hamlin Garland
Hamlin Hannibal Garland (1860–1940) was a novelist, short story writer, and literary critic. In the late nineteenth century he was a high-profile representative of the Realistic school of American authors and an advocate of Local Color writing dedicated to the truthful (rather than sentimental) depiction of regional life....
39. Arthur Goodrich
Arthur Frederick Goodrich (1878–1941), an honor graduate of Columbia University in 1899, would later become a successful novelist and playwright. He made Norris’s acquaintance at the turn of the century as a colleague at Doubleday, Page & Co. Goodrich was an editor in its book department as well as a staff member...
40. Julie A. Herne
Julie Adrienne Herne (1881–1955) was the daughter of Realist playwright James A. Herne, whom Norris had interviewed when writing for The Wave in 1897. Julie, who in this 1952 letter revealed that Norris was the author of the unsigned piece, “Herne, the Unconventional,” was herself a playwright and popular actress...
41. William Dean Howells
Novelist and critic William Dean Howells (1837–1920), known in Norris’s time as the most aggressive American advocate of Realism in literary art, befriended and counseled writers of his own generation, such as Mark Twain, and the next, such as Stephen Crane. Norris met with him often following his arrival in Manhattan...
42. Henry W. Lanier
Henry Wysham Lanier (1873–1948), son of poet Sidney Lanier, was one of the chief editors at Doubleday, Page & Co. whom Norris advised as a manuscript reader. Upon Norris’s death, Lanier, on November 12, 1902, wrote to his widow that he hoped she would take comfort not only in her late husband’s success as...
43. Edwin Lefevre
George Edwin Lefevre (1871–1943) was a journalist and stockbroker whose Wall Street Stories, published in 1901 by McClure, Phillips & Co., was a collection of stories treating market speculations of the kind that Norris dealt with in The Pit. As did fraternity brother George Gibbs and journalist G. D. Moulson, Lefevre...
44. Isaac F. Marcosson
Isaac Frederick Marcosson (1876–1961) was a journalist and editor whose most memorable accomplishment was the promotion of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (1878–1968), the 1906 best seller published by Doubleday, Page & Co. In 1898 he was employed by the Louisville Times, for which he enthusiastically reviewed...
45. George D. Moulson
Cited by name on the acknowledgments page in The Pit, George DeWitt Moulson (1872–1968) was a business journalist in Manhattan who assisted Norris in ensuring the technical accuracy of the novel’s depiction of the speculative activities at the Chicago Board of Trade. The depth of his continued personal relationship...
46. John S. Phillips
John Sanborn Phillips (1861–1949) cofounded McClure’s Magazine with S. S. McClure in 1893. In early February 1898, Phillips offered Norris a position in New York City with the magazine and their syndicate that sold short stories to newspapers. Thus began their working relationship, which also included Norris’s...
47. W. S. Rainsford
William Stephen Rainsford (1850–1933) was the rector of New York City’s St. George’s Episcopal Church, where Norris was a parishioner and where he married in 1900. Typing the “social gospel” orientation in turn-of-the-century Christianity, Rainsford enlisted Norris’s services as an instructor in the educational...
48. Grant Richards
Franklin Thomas Grant Richards (1872–1948) established his eponymous publishing house in London in 1897, seeing into print the next year works of such major authors as George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) and A. E. (Alfred Edward) Housman (1859–1936). He became Norris’s English publisher in 1899, marketing...
49. Elizabeth Knight Tompkins
Sister of Juliet Wilbor Tompkins, Elizabeth Knight Tompkins (1865–1955) was also a novelist and playwright who departed San Francisco for New York City to advance her literary career. She too lived on Washington Square and remained a member of Norris’s circle through 1902 when he and Jeannette left Manhattan...
50. Juliet Wilbor Tompkins
Like Norris, Juliet Wilbor Tompkins Pottle (1871–1956), novelist, playwright, and sister of Elizabeth Knight Tompkins, wrote for The Wave, and then relocated to Manhattan where she served as editor of the Puritan, a monthly magazine. They both lived on Washington Square, and Norris’s Blix first appeared in the...
List of Reminiscences