Rebecca Harding Davis: A Life among Writers

 

Sharon M. Harris 

June 2018
516pp 
CL 978-1-946684-30-1
$59.99
Epub 978-1-946684-32-5
$59.99
PDF 978-1-946684-33-2
$59.99

Summary

Rebecca Harding Davis is best known for her gritty short story “Life in the Iron-Mills,” set in her native Wheeling, West Virginia. Far less is known of her later career among elite social circles in Philadelphia, New York, and Europe, or her relationships with American presidents and leading international figures in the worlds of literature and the stage. In the first book-length biography of Davis, Sharon M. Harris traces the extraordinary life of this pioneering realist and recovers her status as one of America’s notable women journalists. Harris also examines Rebecca’s role as the leading member of the Davis family, a unique and nationally recognized family of writers that shaped the changing culture of later nineteenth-century literature and journalism. 

This accessible treatment of Davis’s life, based on deep research in archival sources, provides new perspective on topics ranging from sectional tensions in the border South to the gendered world of nineteenth-century publishing. It promises to be the authoritative treatment of an important figure in the literary history of West Virginia and the wider world.

Contents

Acknowledgments                  
Preface:  The Real Rebecca Harding Davis         
       
1. Southern Roots (Ancestry to mid-1861)                
2. Treason and Fame (April 1861-March 1863)                   
3. A New Life (May 1863-May 1865)                    
4. New Ventures (June 1865-December 1867)                       
5. A National Author (1868–1870)              
6. A Conservative Progressive (1871–1875)             
7. Centennial Celebrations and The Failure of Reconstruction (1876–1879)             
8. Exposing Government Corruption (1880–1884)               
9. An Era of Nonfiction (1885–1889)                                    
10. “A Message to Be Given” (1890–1893)             
11. A Return to Novel-Writing (1894–1896)             
12.  War Years (1897–1899)               
13. Transitions (1900–1904)           
14. The Widowed Writer  (1905–1910)                    
15. Final Pages:  Richard, Charles, and Nora                          

Notes            
Index              

                       

     

 

Author

Sharon M. Harris is professor emerita of English at the University of Connecticut. She is the author of A Feminist Reader: Feminist Thought from Sappho to Satrapi, Dr. Mary Walker: An American Radical, and Rebecca Harding Davis’s Stories of the Civil War Era.

Reviews

“An important and exciting biography of a major literary figure. Harris’s detective work fills many gaps in Davis’s life and work, and her book should appeal to readers interested in nineteenth-century literature, American women writers, and the history of print culture and the book.”
Alicia Mischa Renfroe, Middle Tennessee State University