Antebellum literature also includes early authors and poets of antiquity who were popular among 19th century readers, including Shakespeare, Goethe, Voltaire, Pluto, Socrates etc.
Hannah Adams, 1755-1831 – Hannah Adams, a distant cousin of John Adams, is known as the first professional woman writer in the United States. When her father’s business failed, Hannah began writing to support herself. She wrote theological works and histories, including Summary History of New England (1799), the first history to trace the United States from the Mayflower to the ratification of the federal Constitution. A Memoir of Miss Hannah Adams, Written by Herself with Additional Notices, by a Friend. Boston: Gray and Bowen, 1832.
Charles Brockden Brown –
Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1849-1924 – Born in Manchester, England, Burnett moved to rural Tennessee at age sixteen with her financially bankrupt family. To support herself, she began writing for American magazines. Though she began writing novels for adults, she gained lasting success writing for children. She is best known for Little Lord Fauntleroy, The Secret Garden, and A Little Princess.
ADA CLARE – (digital.lib.lehigh.edu) Ada Clare was a central part of the Bohemian lifestyle in New York. A group of Bohemians, the West 42nd Street Coterie, often gathered at her home. Clare, the “queen” of the Bohemian circle at Pfaff’s, provided a congenial atmosphere for the Pfaffians during her Sunday night receptions. She played a pivotal role in maintaining the Bohemian society during this time: “Ada Clare was magnetic in addition to her mental brightness and store of maternal treasures inherited from her family, and with her wealth and beauty she attracted the higher grades of men and women” (Rawson 103). She was friends with the leading artists of the day, including Walter Whitman, who said she inspired him.
Ada Clare (whose given name was Jane McIlheny) was born in South Carolina. She received a small inheritance upon her parents’ deaths, which she used to travel to Paris. In the city of lights, she spent time with pianist and composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk, who was the father of her son Aubrey. Clare arrived in New York in 1858 and scandalized the populace as an unwed mother preaching the doctrine of free love and introducing herself and Aubrey as “Miss Ada Clare and Son” (Lalor, “Whitman” 136). As Emily Hahn notes, “she refused to be ruined” and participated fully in the literary life of the city by frequenting Pfaff’s where she organized literary contests, took it upon herself to remember members’ birthdays, and collected funds for community celebrations (3). William Dean Howells remembers her as “a young girl of a sprightly gift in letters, whose name or pseudonym had made itself pretty well known at that day” (“First Impressions” 64). To Walt Whitman, Clare “represented the ideal of the modern woman: talented, intelligent, and emancipated” (Lalor 136). In Whitman’s “Street Yarn” he describes her as “A lady — slender and elegant — in black from head to foot; pure white complexion, pale, striking chiseled features, perfect profile, abundant fair hair; abstracted look, and rather rapid, purposeful step…a perfect beauty; questionless, of decided talent;…a persevering and energetic votary of the mimetic art. Possessed of some wealth, great personal attractions, no inconsiderable share of intellect and cultivation,…” (qtd. in Lalor 136).Her experiences in Paris and New York led her to the Bohemian lifestyle. She defined a Bohemian as a “cosmopolite, with a general sympathy for the fine arts, and for all things above and beyond convention” (Hahn 27). Clare used her own unconventional affair with pianist virtuoso Louis Moreau Gottschalk, which ended badly, as material for many of her poetic and fictional works, like the novel Only a Woman’s Heart, which appeared in 1866 to mixed, and even hostile, reviews.
In addition to acting in New York City, San Francisco, and parts of the Southern United States, Ada Clare also wrote a weekly column for Henry Clapp’s Saturday Press. In “Thoughts and Things” she discussed a range of topics, from women’s rights to the status of the American theater. Clare also employed the pseudonym “Alastor.” In addition to the Press, she also published in Atlas and, during her time in San Francisco, she contributed to The Golden Era, a weekly edited by Bret Harte.
After the disappointing reviews of her novel, Clare joined a stock company of actors in Memphis, adopting the stage name “Agnes Stanfield” while touring in Tennessee. She married a member of the company, J.F. Noyes, with whom she had another son, but the child died in infancy. Clare also lost her first son, Aubrey, before he reached adulthood. Clare herself died in 1874 as the result of complications from the bite of a rabid dog, which she incurred while visiting Sanford and Weaver’s dramatic agency in New York. Though her wounds seemed to heal, she became delirious a few months later during a performance and died that same night.
Fellow Pfaffian William Winter wrote Clare’s obituary in the New York Tribune as well as a poem called “Ada” which was admired by Wilkie Collins (Parry, Garrets 36). The young poet Charles Stoddard, whom Ada traveled with in Hawaii and California, eulogized her by writing, “The queen is dead; but who shall cry ‘Long live the Queen!’ in her stead? Are there no more queens of Bohemia, I wonder, and is the Bohemia of that day a thing of the past, dead and gone forever?” (qtd. in Hahn 35). Howells stated that her fate “out-tragedies almost any other in the history of letters” (“First Impressions” 64). Whitman also expressed sorrow over her death, writing to a friend that he had been “inexpressibly shocked by the horrible and sudden close of her gay, easy, sunny, free, loose, but not ungood life” (Lalor, “Whitman” 137).
John Esten Cooke –
James Fenimore Cooper-
William Alexander Caruthers – The Cavaliers of Virginia; or, The Recluse of Jamestown (1834-35) fits a similar mold as it recounts the historical Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676, while adding the familiar trappings of Gothic fiction. In The Knights of the Horseshoe (1845), Caruthers returned to colonial Virginia for another lively, heroic adventure.
Frederick Douglas – Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, by Himself (1845) first-person account of black slavery in the antebellum South.
Maria Edgeworth, 1767-1849 With encouragement from her father, Richard Lovell Edgeworth, Maria Edgeworth wrote a string of books aimed at children as well as novels for adults. She lived a majority of her life in Ireland, and her novels focus on Irish common life. These the include Castle Rackrent (1800), Ennui (1809), The Absentee (1812), and Ormond (1817), which influenced Sir Walter Scott’s treatment of Irish regional subject matter. In her writings, she deals with sexual equality and often features a woman as the central character.
Ralph Waldo Emerson –
Martha Finley, 1828-1909 Her Elsie character “attained more widespread interest and affection” than any other character in juvenile fiction of the time with the exception of Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.
Margaret Fuller –
Caroline Howard Gilman – She established and edited a literary magazine, Southern Rose, wrote poetry, and produced several notable works of fiction, including two sentimental novels, Recollections of a [New England] Housekeeper (1834) and Recollections of a Southern Matron (1838).
Maria Graham (Lady Callcott), 1785-1842
Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, 1788-1879 – she took up the cause to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. Her persuasive writing campaign eventually convinced Abraham Lincoln to officially declare Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, in the midst of the Civil War.
Gail Hamilton, 1833-1896
Hamilton, an essayist, journalist, and fiction writer, was born Mary Abby Dodge in Hamilton, Massachusetts, and lived as a school teacher and governess in New England and Washington, D.C. In the late 1850s, she began publishing for the anti-slavery paper, the National Era, under the pen name, Gail Hamilton.
Marion Harland, born Mary Virginia Hawes Terhune –
Matilda Charlotte Houstoun, 1815-1892
Houstoun was born into the British upper class. Her mother was the daughter of a wealthy baronet and her father was Deputy Surveyor of Royal Parks.
Caroline Lee Hentz – Ernest Linwood (1856), which examines the effects of unrestrained passion, and Eoline; or, Magnolia Vale (1852), a romance recounting the exploits of its independently minded young protagonist.
Oliver Wendell Holmes –
Washington Irving –
Harriet Jacobs – recounted her experiences in bondage in North Carolina in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself (1861) details her combined struggle as a woman, a mother, and a slave in the Old South and describes seven years spent living in her grandmother’s tiny attic.
William Wells Brown – wrote Clotel; or, The President’s Daughter — widely believed to be the first novel ever published by an African-American. The book depicts the life of its title character, a daughter of Thomas Jefferson and his black mistress, and her struggles under slavery.
John Pendleton Kennedy – Swallow Barn; or, A Sojourn in the Old Dominion (1832), Its narrative features a Northern traveler who records his generally delighted reactions to the South—a device used effectively by Tucker as well as William Wirt in his popular 1803 volume of fictionalized essays entitled The Letters of the British Spy. In his subsequent novels, Kennedy also made skilled use of the elements of the historical adventure genre; his two novels Horse-Shoe Robinson (1835) and Rob of the Bowl: A Legend of St. Inigoe’s (1835) look back romantically to Revolutionary War-era South Carolina and seventeenth-century Maryland, respectively. (From Literature of the Antebellum South, http://www.enotes.com/nineteenth-century-criticism/literature-antebellum-south)
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow –
Herman Melville –
Edgar Allen Poe, (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849)
Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective-fiction genre. He is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction.He was born as Edgar Poe in Boston, Massachusetts; he was orphaned young when his mother died shortly after his father abandoned the family. Poe was taken in by John and Frances Allan, of Richmond, Virginia, but they never formally adopted him. He attended the University of Virginia for one semester but left due to lack of money. After enlisting in the Army and later failing as an officer’s cadet at West Point, Poe parted ways with the Allans.
His work forced him to move between several cities, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. In Baltimore in 1835, he married Virginia Clemm, his 13-year-old cousin. In January 1845, Poe published his poem “The Raven” to instant success. His wife died of tuberculosis two years later. He began planning to produce his own journal, The Penn (later renamed The Stylus), though he died before it could be produced. On October 7, 1849, at age 40, Poe died in Baltimore; the cause of his death is unknown and has been variously attributed to alcohol, brain congestion, cholera, drugs, heart disease, rabies, suicide, tuberculosis, and other agents.
Poe’s best known fiction works are Gothic, a genre he followed to appease the public taste. His most recurring themes deal with questions of death, including its physical signs, the effects of decomposition, concerns of premature burial, the reanimation of the dead, and mourning. Many of his works are generally considered part of the dark romanticism genre, a literary reaction to transcendentalism, which Poe strongly disliked. He referred to followers of the movement as “Frogpondians” after the pond on Boston Common. and ridiculed their writings as “metaphor-run”, lapsing into “obscurity for obscurity’s sake” or “mysticism for mysticism’s sake.” Poe once wrote in a letter to Thomas Holley Chivers that he did not dislike Transcendentalists, “only the pretenders and sophists among them.”
Beyond horror, Poe also wrote satires, humor tales, and hoaxes. For comic effect, he used irony and ludicrous extravagance, often in an attempt to liberate the reader from cultural conformity. In fact, “Metzengerstein“, the first story that Poe is known to have published, and his first foray into horror, was originally intended as a burlesque satirizing the popular genre. Poe also reinvented science fiction, responding in his writing to emerging technologies such as hot air balloons in “The Balloon-Hoax“.
Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894 – Christina Rossetti was the youngest of four children of Gabriele Rossetti, an Italian exile and Dante scholar. Christina’s siblings chose to pursue artistic and literary careers. Her brother Dante Gabriel, painter and poet, founded the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, a group promoting beauty in art and a harkening back to more primitive, medieval themes.
William Gilmore Simms (April 17, 1806 – June 11, 1870)
Simms a son of the South, celebrated by Edgar Allen Poe as the finest novelist America ever produced, was born in Charleston, South Carolina and wrote about the precolonial and colonial South. Simms also composed eight novels set in the city of his birth, including The Partisan (1835), Katherine Walton (1851), Mellichampe (1836), The Kinsmen (1841), The Forayers (1855), Eutaw (1856), and Joscelyn (1867). In addition to southern tales, Simms wrote ten novels about the frontier: Richard Hurdis, the Avenger of Blood. A Tale of Alabama (1838) and Border Beagles: A Tale of Mississippi (1840). In 1852, Simms published The Tennessean’s Story. http://www.wikepedia.com
His other novels: The Yemassee (1835); The Lily and the Totem, or, The Huguenots in Florida (1850); Vasconselos (1853); and The Cassique of Kiawah (1859)
Full of southern pride, Simms opposed Harriet Beecher Stowe’s abolitionist stance and wrote the novel, The Sword and the Distaff in response to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Poe was famous, but struggled financially all of his life. He was friends with William Ross Wallace, a fellow poet.
Susanna Rowson –
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) depicted life for African-Americans under slavery; it reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the U.S. and Britain and made the political issues of the 1850s regarding slavery tangible to millions, energizing anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South. Upon meeting Stowe, Abraham Lincoln allegedly remarked, “So you’re the little lady who started this great war!” Harriet Beecher was born in Litchfield, Connecticut on June 14, 1811. She was the daughter of outspoken religious leader Lyman Beecher and Roxana Foote, a deeply religious woman who died when Stowe was four years old. She was the sister of the educator and author, Catharine Beecher, clergymen Henry Ward Beecher, Charles Beecher, and Edward Beecher.
Stowe sailed to Europe in 1853 and met with royalty, Lady Byron received her as did the court of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. She also met novelist Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and George Eliot.
Joanna Southcott, 1750-1814
Born in East Devon to a poor farming family, Joanna Southcott spent a majority of her life living normally as a domestic servant and upholsterer. However, at age forty-two, she turned prophetess. Southcott began to interpret a rapidly changing England, one of industrial growth and subsequent social unrest, as a sign of God’s wrath. “On Christmas 1791, she joined the Wesleyans. On Easter Sunday 1792, she predicted that the locusts of Abaddon would be loosed upon the world.” Warnings and solutions to save the world came to her in a voice. In response, she took her messages and life’s savings to a printer and published her first book, The Strange Effects of Faith, in 1801. She soon acquired thousands of followers and set up a ministry in London. She published sixty-five books before her death in 1814. (Rosenberg)
Henry David Thoreau –
T.B. Thorpe –
Royall Tyler’s play The Contrast
Henry Timrod –
George Tucker , born in Virginia – The Valley of Shenandoah; or, Memoirs of the Graysons (1824), a somewhat melodramatic family saga featuring exaggerated language and conventional characters.
Nathaniel Beverly Tucker, George Balcombe (1836) is a frontier romance mostly set in backcountry Missouri, while The Partisan Leader: A Tale of the Future, published secretly in 1836, is an imaginative, allegorical look thirteen years hence after the Confederacy has seceded from the Union.
Antebellum short fiction was primarily the domain of the southwestern humorist. Augustus Baldwin Longstreet was probably the most renowned of these writers. His Georgia Scenes, Characters, Incidents, Etc. in the First Half Century of the Republic (1835) achieved national prominence as it amusingly described life in the South’s hinterlands. Other important humorist collections include William Tappan Thompson’s Major Jones’s Scenes in Georgia (1843), James Jones Hooper’s The Adventures of Captain Simon Suggs (1845), and Joseph G. Baldwin’s Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi (1853).
The most influential literary periodical of the Old South was undoubtedly the Richmond-based Southern Literary Messenger. Published between 1834 and 1864, the Messenger established literary tastes for more than a decade longer than its closest competitor, the Southern Quarterly Review, in an age that saw scores of periodicals come and go. The Messenger published the work of the established poets of the early antebellum period, including Richard Henry Wilde, Edward Coate Pinkney, Thomas Holley Chivers, and Philip Pendleton Cooke.
Walt Whitman, (Sources, Wikepedia, outhistory.org, http://www.book-of-thoth.com)
Walter Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist, journalist, and humanist. He was a part of the transition between Transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. His work was very controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sexuality.
Born on Long Island, Whitman worked as a journalist, a teacher, a government clerk, and a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War in addition to publishing his poetry. Early in his career, he also produced a temperance novel, Franklin Evans (1842). Whitman’s major work, Leaves of Grass, was first published in 1855 with his own money. The work was an attempt at reaching out to the common person with an American epic. He continued expanding and revising it until his death in 1892. After a stroke towards the end of his life, he moved to Camden, New Jersey where his health further declined. He died at age 72 and his funeral became a public spectacle.[he is usually described as either homosexual or bisexual in his feelings and attractions. However, there is disagreement among biographers as to whether Whitman had actual sexual experiences with men. Whitman was concerned with politics throughout his life. He supported the Wilmot Proviso and opposed the extension of slavery generally. His poetry presented an egalitarian view of the races, and at one point he called for the abolition of slavery, but later he saw the abolitionist movement as a threat to democracy.Walter Whitman was born on May 31, 1819, in West Hills, Town of Huntington, Long Island, to parents with interest in Quaker thought, Walter and Louisa Van Velsor Whitman. He was the second of nine children and was immediately nicknamed “Walt” to distinguish him from his father.[8As the American Civil War was beginning, Whitman published his poem “Beat! Beat! Drums!” as a patriotic rally call for the North. Whitman’s brother George had joined the Union army and began sending Whitman several vividly detailed letters of the battle front.3]
1856, May — May 1859: Sometime during this period, Walt Whitman is believed to have lived with or near his first known lover, Fred Vaughan. Whitman was living in his family home on Classon Avenue in Brooklyn, and Vaughan either lived with him or nearby with his own family.This is in contradiction to the outrage Whitman displayed when confronted about these messages in public, praising chastity and denouncing onanism. He also long claimed to have a black female paramour in New Orleans, and six illegitimate children. This story about the paramour in New Orleans has led historians on a wild goose chase. Jean Luc Montaigne specifies that the name of Whitman´s lover was Jean Granouille, not Jeanine Granouille. This mixed-blood male was only 26 years old when he met Whitman, and he was the son of Huguenot preacher and a slave. Some, in order to whitewash Whitman´s reputation, converted Jean into Jeanine. Having an African-American female as a lover was far more acceptable than having a partially Black lover. Modern scholarly opinion believes these poems reflected Whitman’s true feelings towards his sexuality, but he tried to cover up his feelings in a homophobic culture. In “Once I Pass’d Through A Populous City” he changed the sex of the beloved from male to female prior to publication.
1856, September 11: Whitman registers for copyright his second edition of Leaves of Grass.
1860, May: Whitman publishes third edition of Leaves of Grass, containing his ‘Calamus’ cluster of books exploring the theme of adhesiveness, or same-sex attraction.
1862, September 18: Whitman learns the news of the battlefield death of Union soldier Bill Giggee, as relayed by his surviving comrade, Arthur Giggee. Whitman uses the circumstances of Bill’s death & Arthur’s response in the Drum Taps poem, “Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night.”
1865, January to March: Whitman meets his second known male intimate, Pete Doyle, a former Confederate soldier who is working as a streetcar conductor in Washington, DC.