William Dean Howells

William Dean Howells (/ˈhaʊəlz/; March 1, 1837 – May 11, 1920) was an American realist novelist, literary critic, and playwright, nicknamed "The Dean of American Letters". He was particularly known for his tenure as editor of The Atlantic Monthly, as well as for his own prolific writings, including the Christmas story "Christmas Every Day" and the novels The Rise of Silas Lapham and A Traveler from Altruria.

William Dean Howells
W. D. Howells
BornMarch 1, 1837
Martins Ferry (then Martinsville), Ohio, U.S.
DiedMay 11, 1920 (aged 83)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
SpouseElinor Mead
ChildrenWinifred Howells (b. 1863)
John Mead Howells (b. 1868)
Mildred Howells (b. 1872)

Appleton's Howells William Dean signature


Early life and family

William Dean Howells was born on March 1, 1837, in Martinsville, Ohio (now known as Martins Ferry, Ohio), to William Cooper Howells and Mary Dean Howells,[1] the second of eight children. His father was a newspaper editor and printer who moved frequently around Ohio.[2] In 1840, the family settled in Hamilton, Ohio,[3] where his father oversaw a Whig newspaper and followed Swedenborgianism.[4] Their nine years there were the longest period that they stayed in one place.[3] The family had to live frugally, although the young Howells was encouraged by his parents in his literary interests.[5] He began at an early age to help his father with typesetting and printing work, a job known at the time as a printer's devil. In 1852, his father arranged to have one of his poems published in the Ohio State Journal without telling him.

Early career

In 1856, Howells was elected as a clerk in the State House of Representatives. In 1858, he began to work at the Ohio State Journal where he wrote poetry and short stories, and also translated pieces from French, Spanish, and German. He avidly studied German and other languages and was greatly interested in Heinrich Heine. In 1860, he visited Boston and met with writers James Thomas Fields, James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. He became a personal friend to many of them, including Henry Adams, William James, Henry James, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.[6]

William Dean Howells House (Cambridge, MA)
The William Dean Howells House in Cambridge, MA was designed by his wife Elinor Mead, and was occupied by Howells and his family from 1873 to 1878.

In 1860 Howells wrote Abraham Lincoln's campaign biography Life of Abraham Lincoln and subsequently gained a consulship in Venice. He married Elinor Mead on Christmas Eve 1862 at the American embassy in Paris. She was a sister of sculptor Larkin Goldsmith Mead and architect William Rutherford Mead of the firm McKim, Mead, and White. Among their children was architect John Mead Howells.

Editorship and other literary pursuits

The Howells returned to America in 1865 and settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He wrote for various magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly and Harper's Magazine. In January 1866, James Fields offered him a position as assistant editor at The Atlantic Monthly; he accepted after successfully negotiating for a higher salary, though he was frustrated by Fields' close supervision.[7]

Howells was made editor in 1871, after five years as assistant editor, and he remained in this position until 1881. In 1869, he met Mark Twain with whom he formed a longtime friendship. But his relationship with journalist Jonathan Baxter Harrison was more important for the development of his literary style and his advocacy of Realism. Harrison wrote a series of articles for The Atlantic Monthly during the 1870s on the lives of ordinary Americans.[8] Howells gave a series of twelve lectures on "Italian Poets of Our Century" for the Lowell Institute during its 1870-71 season.[9]

He published his first novel Their Wedding Journey in 1872, but his literary reputation soared with the realist novel A Modern Instance (1882), which described the decay of a marriage. His 1885 novel The Rise of Silas Lapham became his best known work, describing the rise and fall of an American entrepreneur of the paint business. His social views were also strongly represented in the novels Annie Kilburn (1888), A Hazard of New Fortunes (1890), and An Imperative Duty (1891).

He was particularly outraged by the trials resulting from the Haymarket Riot, which led him to portray a similar riot in A Hazard of New Fortunes and to write publicly to protest the trials of the men allegedly involved in the Haymarket affair. In his public writing and in his novels, he drew attention to pressing social issues of the time. He joined the Anti-Imperialist League in 1898, in opposition to the U.S. annexation of the Philippines.

His poems were collected in 1873 and 1886, and a volume was published in 1895 under the title Stops of Various Quills. He was the initiator of the school of American realists, and he had little sympathy with any other type of fiction. However, he frequently encouraged new writers in whom he discovered new ideas or new fictional techniques, such as Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, Hamlin Garland, Harold Frederic, Abraham Cahan, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Later years

In 1902, Howells published The Flight of Pony Baker, a book for children partly inspired by his own childhood.[10] That same year, he bought a summer home overlooking the Piscataqua River in Kittery Point, Maine.[11] He returned there annually until Elinor's death when he left the house to his son and family and moved to a house in York Harbor. His grandson, John Noyes Mead Howells, donated the property to Harvard University as a memorial in 1979.[12] In 1904 he was one of the first seven people chosen for membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, of which he became president.

In February 1910, Elinor Howells began using morphine to treat her worsening neuritis.[13] She died on May 6, a few days after her birthday, and only two weeks after the death of Howells's friend Mark Twain. Henry James offered his condolences, writing, "I think of this laceration of your life with an infinite sense of all it will mean for you".[14] Howells and his daughter Mildred decided to spend part of the year in their Cambridge home on Concord Avenue; though, without Elinor, they found it "dreadful in its ghostliness and ghastliness".[15]

Howells died in his sleep shortly after midnight on May 11, 1920,[16] and was buried in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[17] Eight years later his daughter published his correspondence as a biography of his literary life.

Literary criticism

In addition to his own creative works, Howells also wrote criticism, and essays about contemporary literary figures such as Henrik Ibsen, Émile Zola, Giovanni Verga, Benito Pérez Galdós, and, especially, Leo Tolstoy, which helped establish their reputations in the United States. He also wrote critically in support of American writers Hamlin Garland, Stephen Crane, Emily Dickinson, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Sarah Orne Jewett, Charles W. Chesnutt, Abraham Cahan, Madison Cawein, and Frank Norris. It is perhaps in this role that he had his greatest influence. In his "Editor's Study" column at The Atlantic Monthly and, later, at Harper's, he formulated and disseminated his theories of "realism" in literature.

Howells viewed realism as "nothing more and nothing less than the truthful treatment of material."[18]

In defense of the real, as opposed to the ideal, he wrote,

"I hope the time is coming when not only the artist, but the common, average man, who always 'has the standard of the arts in his power,' will have also the courage to apply it, and will reject the ideal grasshopper wherever he finds it, in science, in literature, in art, because it is not 'simple, natural, and honest,' because it is not like a real grasshopper. But I will own that I think the time is yet far off, and that the people who have been brought up on the ideal grasshopper, the heroic grasshopper, the impassioned grasshopper, the self-devoted, adventureful, good old romantic card-board grasshopper, must die out before the simple, honest, and natural grasshopper can have a fair field."[19]

Howells believed the future of American writing was not in poetry but in novels, a form which he saw shifting from "romance" to a serious form.[20]

Howells was a Christian socialist whose ideals were greatly influenced by Russian writer Leo Tolstoy.[21] He joined a Christian socialist group in Boston between 1889 and 1891[22] and attended several churches, including the First Spiritual Temple and the Church of the Carpenter, the latter being affiliated with the Episcopal Church and the Society of Christian Socialists.[23] These influences led him to write on issues of social justice from a moral and egalitarian point of view, being critic of the social effects of industrial capitalism.[24][25][26] He was, however, not a Marxist.[27]


Noting the "documentary" and truthful value of Howells' work, Henry James wrote: "Stroke by stroke and book by book your work was to become, for this exquisite notation of our whole democratic light and shade and give and take, in the highest degree documentary."[28] The late nineteenth century English novelist George Gissing read two of Howell's works, The Shadow of a Dream and A Fearful Responsibility, calling the latter "inane triviality". [29] Bliss Perry considered a knowledge of his work vital for an understanding of the American provincial novel and believed that "he has never in his long career written an insincere, a slovenly, or an infelicitous page."[30]


William Dean Howells (ca1870)

William Dean Howells, c. 1870.

William Dean Howells 1906

Howells, by Van der Weyde, 1906.

William Dean Howells in 1866

William Dean Howells in 1866.

William Dean Howells 1887

Howells in 1887.

William Dean Howells grave

Grave of William Dean Howells, in Cambridge Cemetery.


  • Lives and Speeches of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin (New York, W. A. Townsend & Co.; Columbus, Follett, Foster & co., 1860).
  • Venetian Life (London: N. Trübner & Co., 1866; later American edition with additional cancels: New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1866).
  • Italian Journeys (New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1867).
  • "No Love Lost," Putnam's Magazine, Vol. 2 (new series), No. 12, pp. 641–51 (December 1868). Reprinted as No Love Lost. A Romance of Travel (New York: G.P. Putnam & Son, 1869).
  • Suburban Sketches (New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1871).[31]
  • Their Wedding Journey (Boston: J.R. Osgood & Co., 1872).
  • A Chance Acquaintance (Boston: J.R. Osgood & Co., 1874).
  • Sketch of the Life and Character of Rutherford B. Hayes (New York & Boston: Hurd and Houghton, [1876]).
  • A Foregone Conclusion (Boston: J.R. Osgood & Co., 1875).
  • A Day's Pleasure (Boston: J.R. Osgood & Co., 1876).
  • The Parlor Car: A Farce (Boston: J.R. Osgood, 1876) (originally published in the ASeptember 1876 issue of Atlantic Monthly).
  • A Counterfeit Presentment: A Comedy (Boston: J.R. Osgood & Co., 1877).
  • Out of the Question (Boston: J.R. Osgood & Co., 1877).
  • The Lady of The Aroostook (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1879).

The following were written during his residence in England and in Italy, as was The Rise of Silas Lapham in 1885.

  • The Undiscovered Country (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1880).
  • A Modern Instance: A Novel (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1881).
  • A Fearful Responsibility and Other Stories (Boston: J.R. Osgood & Co., 1881) (in addition to the title story: "At the Sign of the Savage" and "Tonelli's Marriage").
  • Dr. Breen's Practice: A Novel (Boston & New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1881).
  • A Day's Pleasure, and Other Sketches (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1881) (in addition to title story: "Buying a Horse," "Flitting," "The Mouse" and "A Year in a Venetian Palace").
  • Out of the Question; and, At the Sign of the Savage (Edinburgh: D. Douglas, 1882) (The first story was first published in the February–April 1877 issue of Atlantic Monthly).
  • A Woman's Reason: A Novel (Boston: J.R. Osgood & Co., [c1882] 1883).
  • The Sleeping Car: A Farce (Boston: J.R. Osgood & Co., 1883).
  • Niagara Revisited 12 Years after their Wedding Journey by the Hoosac Tunnel Route (Chicago: D. Dalziel, 1884) (Revision of piece from May 1883 issue of Atlantic Monthly).
  • Three Villages (Boston: J.R. Osgood & Co., 1884).
  • The Register: A Farce (Boston: J.R. Osgood & Co., 1884).
  • Tuscan Cities (Boston: J.R. Osgood & Co., 1884).
  • The Rise of Silas Lapham (Boston: Tiknor & Co., 1885).
  • A Sea-Change, or, Love's Stowaway: A Comic Opera in Two Acts and an Epilogue (London: Trübner & Co.; Boston: A.P. Schmidt & Co., c1884).
  • Poems (Boston: Ticknor, 1885).
  • The Elevator: A Farce (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1885; 0James R. Osgood, c1886).

He returned to the United States in 1886. He wrote various types of works, including fiction, poetry, and farces, of which The Sleeping Car, The Mouse-Trap, The Elevator; Christmas Every Day; and Out of the Question are characteristic.

  • Indian Summer (Boston: Tiknor & Co. 1885).
  • The Garroters: A Farce (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1886).
  • The Minister's Charge: or The Apprenticeship of Lemuel Barker (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1886).
  • Modern Italian Poets: Essays and Versions (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1887).
  • April Hopes: A Novel (Edinburgh: David Douglas 1887; New York: Harper & Brothers, 1888).
  • with Thomas Sergeant Ferry (eds.), Library of Universal Adventure by Sea and Land including Original Narratives and Authentic Stories of Personal Prowess and Peril in All the Waters and Regions of the Globe from the Year 79 A.D. to the Year 1888 A.D. (New York: Harper & Bros., 1888).
  • A Sea-Change: or, Love's Stowaway, a Lyricated Farce in Two Acts and an Epilogue (Boston: Ticknor & Company, 1888).
  • with Mark Twain and Charles Hopkins Clark (comps.), Mark Twain's Library of Humor (New York: Charles L. Webster & Co., 1888).
  • The Mouse-Trap and Other Farces (New York: Harper, 1889) (in addition to the title farce:The Garotters, Five o'Clock Tea, and A Likely Story).
  • Annie Kilburn: A Novel (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1889).
  • A Hazard of New Fortunes: A Novel (New York: Harper & Brothers / (Harper's Franklin square library: new ser, no. 661. Extra, Nov. 1889)).
  • The Shadow of a Dream: A Story (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1890).
  • A Boy's Town: described for "Harper's Young People" (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1890).
  • An Imperative Duty (Author's ed.: Edinburgh: D. Douglas / (David Douglas' series of American authors, 54) 1891).
  • Criticism and Fiction (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1891).
  • The Quality of Mercy (New York; London: Harper, 1891).
  • The Albany Depot (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1892 [i.e.1891]).
  • A Little Swiss Sojourn (New York: Harper & Brothers / (Harper's black & white series), 1892).
  • A Letter of Introduction: Farce (New York: Harper & Brothers / (Harper's black and white series), 1892).
  • The World of Chance (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893).
  • The Unexpected Guest (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893).
  • My Year in a Log Cabin (New York: Harper & Brothers / (Harper's black and white series), 1893).
  • Christmas Every Day and Other Stories Told to Children (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893).
  • The Coast of Bohemia: A Novel (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893).
  • Evening Dress: A Farce (New York: Harper & Brothers / (Harper's black and white series), 1893).
  • A Traveler from Altruria: Romance (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1894).
  • My Literary Passions (New York: Harper, 1895).
  • Stops of Various Quills (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1895).
  • A Parting and a Meeting: Story (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1896).
  • Impressions and Experiences (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1896) (consisting of "The Country Printer," "Police Report," "I Talk of Dreams," "An East-Side Ramble," "Tribulations of a Cheerful Giver," "The Closing of the Hotel," "Glimpses of Central Park" and "New York Streets").
  • Stories of Ohio (New York, Cincinnati: American Book Co., 1897).
  • The Landlord At Lion's Head (Edinburg: David Douglas, 1897).
  • An Open-Eyed Conspiracy: An Idyl of Saratoga (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1897).
  • A Previous Engagement: Comedy (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1897).
  • The Story of a Play: A Novel (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1898).
  • Ragged Lady: A Novel (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1899).
  • Their Silver Wedding Journey (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1899).
  • An Indian Giver: A Comedy (Boston, New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1900).
  • Bride Roses: A Scene (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1900 [c1893]).
  • Literary Friends and Acquaintance: A Personal Retrospect of American Authorship (New York, Harper & Brothers, 1900).
  • Doorstep Acquaintance, and Other Sketches (Cambridge, Mass.: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1900) (in addition to title story: "Tonelli's Marriage," "A Romance of Real Life" and "At Padua").
  • Room Forty-Five: A Farce (Boston, New York, Houghton, Mifflin, 1900).
  • A Pair of Patient Lovers (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1901).
  • Heroines of Fiction (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1901).
  • The Kentons: A Novel (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1902).
  • The Flight of Pony Baker: A Boy's Town Story (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1902).
  • Literature and Life: Studies (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1902) (consisting of the following essays: "The Man of Letters as a Man of Business," "Worries of a Winter Walk," "Confessions of a Summer Colonist," "The Editor's Relations with the Young Contributor," "Summer Isles of Eden," "Wild Flowers of the Asphalt, "Last Days in a Dutch Hotel," "Some Anomalies of the Short Story," "A Circus in the Suburbs," "A She Hamlet," "Spanish Prisoners of War," "The Midnight Platoon," "The Beach at Rockaway," "American Literary Centres," "Sawdust in the Arena," "At a Dime Museum," "American Literature in Exile," "The Horse Show," "The Problem of the Summer," "Esthetic New York Fhty-Odd Years Ago," "From New York into New England," "The Standard Household-Effect Company," "Staccato Notes of a Vanished Summer," "The Art of the Adsmith," "The Psychology of Plagiarism," "Puritanism in American Fiction," "The What and the How in Art," "Politics of American Authors," "Storage' and "'Floating Down the River on the O-hi-o'").
  • Letters Home (New York, London, Harper & Brothers, 1903).
  • Questionable Shapes (New York, London, Harper & Brothers, 1903) (consisting of "His Apparition," "The Angel of the Lord" and "Though One Rose from the Dead).
  • The Son of Royal Langbrith: A Novel (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1904).
  • Miss Bellard's Inspiration: A Novel (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1905).
  • London Films (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1905).
  • Braybridge's Offer in William Dean Howells & Henry Mills Alden (eds.), Quaint Courtships: Harper's Novelettes (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, [1906]).
  • The Amigo in William Dean Howells & Henry Mills Alden (eds.), The Heart of Childhood: Harper's Novelettes (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1906).
  • Editha in William Dean Howells & Henry Mills Alden (eds.), Different Girls: Harper's Novelettes (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1906).
  • The Mulberries in Pay's Garden (Cincinnati: Western Literary Press, 1906).
  • Certain Delightful English Towns with Glimpses of the Pleasant Country Between (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1906).
  • Between the Dark and the Daylight: Romances (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1907) (consisting of: "A Sleep and a Forgetting," "The Eidolons of Brooks Alford," "A Memory that Worked Overtime," "A Case of Metaphantasmia," "Editha," "Braybridge’s Offer" and "The Chick of the Easter Egg").
  • Through the Eye of the Needle: A Romance (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1907).
  • Roman Holiday and Others (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1908) (in addition to the title piece: ""Up and Down Medeira," "The Up-Town Blocks into Spain," "Ashore at Genoa," "Naples and Her Joyful Noise," "Pompeii Revisited," "A Week at Leghorn," "Over at Pisa," "Back at Genoa" and "Eden After the Fall").
  • The Whole Family: A Novel (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1908).
  • Fennel and Rue: A Novel (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1908).
  • Seven English Cities (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1909).
  • The Mother and Father: Dramatic Passages (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1909).
  • My Mark Twain: Reminiscences and Criticisms (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1910).
  • Imaginary Interviews (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1910) (consisting of the following essays: "The Restoration of the Easy Chair by Way of Introduction, "A Year of Spring and a Life of Youth," "Sclerosis of the Tastes," "The Practices and Precepts of Vaudeville," "Intimations of Italian Opera," "The Superiority of Our Inferiors," "Unimportance of Women in Republics," "Having Just Got Home," "New York to the Home-Comer's Eye," "Cheapness of the Costliest City on Earth," "Ways and Means of Living in New York," "The Quality of Boston and the Quantity of New York," "The Whirl of Life in Our First Circles," "The Magazine Muse," "Comparative Luxuries of Travel," "Qualities without Defects," "A Wasted Opportunity," "A Niece's Literary Advice to Her Uncle," "A Search for Celebrity," "Practical Immortality on Earth," "Around a Rainy-Day Fire," "The Advantages of Quotational Criticism," "Reading for a Grandfather," "Some Moments with the Muse," "A Normal Hero and Heroine Out of Work," "Autumn in the Country and City," "Personal and Epistolary Addresses," "Dressing for Hotel Dinner," "The Counsel of Literary Age to Literary Youth," "The Unsatisfactoriness of Unfriendly Criticism," "The Fickleness of Age," "The Renewal of Inspiration," "The Summer Sojourn of Florindo and Lindora," "To Have the Honor of Meeting" and "A Day at Bronx Park").
  • "A Counsel of Consolation" in In After Days: Thoughts on the Future Life (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1910).
  • Parting Friends: A Farce (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1911).
  • New Leaf Mills: A Chronicle (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1913).
  • Familiar Spanish Travels (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1913).
  • Seen and Unseen at Stratford-upon-Avon: A Fantasy (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1914).
  • The Leatherwood God (New York: The Century Co., 1916).
  • The Daughter of the Storage, and Other Things in Prose and Verse (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1916) (in addition to the title story: "A Presentiment," "Captain Dunlevy's Last Trip," "The Return to FavorSomebody's Mother," "The Face at the Window," "An Experience," "The Boarders," "Breakfast Is My Best Meal," "The Mother-Bird," "The Amigo," "Black Cross Farm," "The Critical Bookstore," "A Feast of Reason," "City and Country in the Fall," "Table Talk," "The Escapade of a Grandfather," "Self-sacrifice: A Farce-tragedy" and "The Night before Christmas").
  • Years of My Youth (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1916).
  • "Eighty Years and After," Harper's Monthly Magazine, Vol. CXL, No. DCCXXXV (December 1919), pp. 21–28.
  • The Vacation of the Kelwyns: An Idyl of the Middle Eighteen-Seventies (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1920).
  • Hither and Thither in Germany (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1920).
  • Mrs. Farrell: A Farce (New York, London: Harper & Brothers, 1921) (first printed as "Private Theatricals [Part I]," Atlantic Monthly, Vol. XXXVI, No. CCXVII (November 1875), pp. 513–22 and "Private Theatricals [Part II]," Atlantic Monthly, Vol. XXXVI, Nol. CCXVIII (December 1875), pp. 674–87).

See also


  1. ^ Lynn, 35
  2. ^ William D.P. Bliss (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Social Reforms. Third Edition. New York: Funk and Wagnalls Co., 1897; pg. 698.
  3. ^ a b Lynn, 36
  4. ^ Olsen, 33–34
  5. ^ Olsen, 36
  6. ^ See, e.g., Smith, Harriet Elinor, ed., The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1, University of California Press, 2010, p.475.
  7. ^ Goodman and Dawson, 107–108
  8. ^ Fryckstedt 1958
  9. ^ Harriet Knight Smith, The History of the Lowell Institute, Boston: Lamson, Wolffe and Co., 1898.
  10. ^ Olsen, 5
  11. ^ J. Dennis Robinson. "William Dean Howells at Kittery". seacoastnh.com.
  12. ^ William Dean Howells Memorial House, Kittery Point, Maine Archived 2010-06-27 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Goodman and Dawson, 401
  14. ^ Lynn, 322
  15. ^ Goodman and Dawson, 402
  16. ^ Goodman and Dawson, 432
  17. ^ ISITE Design. "Cambridge Cemetery - Public Works - City of Cambridge, Massachusetts". cambridgema.gov.
  18. ^ Crow, Charles L. A Companion to the Regional Literatures of America. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2003: 92. ISBN 0631226311
  19. ^ Criticism and Fiction," by William Dean Howells, accessed January 6, 2010.
  20. ^ Ruland, Richard and Malcolm Bradbury. From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature. New York: Viking, 1991: 203–204. ISBN 0-670-83592-7
  21. ^ Ensign, Russell L. and Louis Patsouras. Challenging Social Injustice: Essays on Socialism and the Devaluation of the Human Spirit. Edwin Mellen Press, 1993: 19.
  22. ^ Bercovitch, Sacvan and Cyrus R. K. Patell. The Cambridge History of American Literature: Volume 3, Prose Writing, 1860-1920. Cambridge University Press, 2005: 736.
  23. ^ Goodman and Dawson, 308
  24. ^ Davis, Cynthia J. and, Denise D. Knight. Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Her Contemporaries: Literary and Intellectual Contexts. University of Alabama Press, 2004: 21
  25. ^ Link, Arthur Stanley and William A. Link. The Twentieth Century: An American History. Harlan Davidson, 1983: 17.
  26. ^ Zimmerman, Jerry R. Baydo. History of the U. S. with Topics. Gregory Publishing Company, 1994: 137
  27. ^ Goodman and Dawson, 120
  28. ^ James, Henry, Lubbock, Percy. The letters of Henry James. New York: Scribner, 1920: 233.
  29. ^ Coustillas, Pierre ed. London and the Life of Literature in Late Victorian England: the Diary of George Gissing, Novelist. Brighton: Harvester Press, 1978, p.320
  30. ^ Perry, Bliss, The American Spirit in Literature, Yale University Press, 1918, Chapter X.
  31. ^ "Review of Suburban Sketches by W. D. Howells". The Athenaeum (2281): 75–76. 15 July 1871.


  • Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "article name needed". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
  • Bleiler, Everett (1948). The Checklist of Fantastic Literature. Chicago: Shasta Publishers. p. 154.
  • Fryckstedt, Olov W. 1958. In Quest of America: A Study of Howells' Early Development as a Novelist. Uppsala, Sweden: Thesis.
  • Goodman, Susan and Carl Dawson. William Dean Howells: A Writer's Life. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. ISBN 0-520-23896-6
  • Lynn, Kenneth S. William Dean Howells: An American Life. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1970. ISBN 0-15-142177-3
  • Olsen, Rodney. Dancing in Chains: The Youth of William Dean Howells. New York: New York University Press, 1991. ISBN 0-8147-6172-0

Further reading

  • Peter J. Frederick, Knights of the Golden Rule: The Intellectual As Christian Social Reformer in the 1890s. Lexington, KY: University Press Of Kentucky, 1976.
  • Ulrich Halfmann and William Dean Howells, "Interviews with William Dean Howells," American Literary Realism, 1870–1910, vol. 6, no. 4 (Fall 1973), pp. 274–275, 277–279, 281–399, 401–416. In JSTOR.
  • Ulrich Halfmann and Don R. Smith, "William Dean Howells: A Revised and Annotated Bibliography of Secondary Comment in Periodicals and Newspapers, 1868–1919," American Literary Realism, 1870–1910, vol. 5, no. 2 (Spring 1972), pp. 91–121. In JSTOR.
  • Radavich, David. "Twain, Howells, and the Origins of Midwestern Drama." MidAmerica XXXI (2004): 25–42.
  • N. S. Witschi, Traces of Gold: California's Natural Resources and the Claim to Realism in Western American Literature. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2002.

External links

A Counterfeit Presentment

A Counterfeit Presentment is a play written by American author and playwright William Dean Howells in 1877. The play is a realistic comedy and tells the story of a chance encounter between a young woman, Constance, and a man whom she mistakes for her ex lover, Bartlett. However, Bartlett is not completely aware of Constance's neurotic behavior until he gets to know her a bit more. Her true personality is only truly expressed after she forces Bartlett to stay with her in the hotel so she can pretend he is her former beau. Howell's uses comedy to reveal the deeper issue of the plight of unmarried middle and upper class women in the 19th century.

A Hazard of New Fortunes

A Hazard of New Fortunes is a novel by William Dean Howells. Copyrighted in 1889 and first published in the U.S. by Harper & Bros. in 1890, the book was well-received for its portrayal of social injustice. Considered by many to be his best work, the novel is also considered to be the first novel to portray New York City. Some argue that the novel was the first of three Howells wrote with Socialist and Utopian ideals in mind: The Quality of Mercy in 1892, and An Imperative Duty in 1893. In this novel, although Howells briefly discusses the American Civil War, he primarily deals with issues of post-war "Gilded Age" America, like labor disputes, the rise of the self-made millionaire, the growth of urban America, the influx of immigrants, and other industrial-era problems. Many critics consider A Hazard of New Fortunes to be one of Howells' most important examples of American literary Realism because he portrays a variety of people from different backgrounds.

A Modern Instance

A Modern Instance is a realistic novel written by William Dean Howells, and published in 1882 by J. R. Osgood & Co. The novel is about the deterioration of a once loving marriage under the influence of capitalistic greed. It is the first American novel by a canonical author to seriously consider divorce as a realistic outcome of marriage.

A Traveler from Altruria

A Traveler from Altruria is a Utopian novel by William Dean Howells. It was first published in installments in The Cosmopolitan between November 1892 and October 1893, and eventually in book form by Harper & Brothers in 1894. The novel is a critique of unfettered capitalism and its consequences, and of the Gilded Age.

An Imperative Duty

An Imperative Duty is a short realist novel by William Dean Howells published in 1891. The novel explores the idea of "passing" through the racially mixed character of Rhoda Aldgate, a young woman whose aunt informs her that she is one-sixteenth African American. Rhoda lived her whole life "passing" as a white person.

Christmas Every Day

Christmas Every Day is a 1996 American made-for-television fantasy-comedy film based on the 1892 short story "Christmas Every Day" by William Dean Howells.

It was directed by Larry Peerce, starred Erik von Detten, and originally broadcast on The Family Channel during their first 25 Days of Christmas programming block. and was also shown on UK television on QVC Extra (True Entertainment) on November 28, 2015.

The movie was remade into an ABC Family TV movie in 2006 titled Christmas Do-Over.

Dr. Breen's Practice

Dr. Breen's Practice is a novel, one of the earlier works by American author and literary critic William Dean Howells. Houghton Mifflin originally published the novel in 1881 in both Boston and New York. Howells wrote in the realist style, creating a faithful representation of the commonplace, and in this case describing everyday mannerisms that embody the daily lives of middle-class people.

Elinor Mead Howells

Elinor Mead Howells (May 1, 1837 – May 6, 1910) was an American artist, architect and aristocrat. She was married to author William Dean Howells and designed the William Dean Howells House in Cambridge.

Indian Summer (novel)

Indian Summer is an 1886 novel by William Dean Howells. Though it was published after The Rise of Silas Lapham, it was written before The Rise of Silas Lapham. The setting for this novel was inspired by a trip Howells had recently taken with his family to Europe.

Howells was a realist writer who wanted “his characters to be honest, ordinary people, as he might find in his strata of society, flawed and well-meaning, good-hearted and self-effacing, bound by the conventions and the restrictions of their day but quietly dreaming of a little local heroism in their souls.” All of this is encompassed in the character Theodore Colville.

Mark Twain's Library of Humor

Mark Twain's Library of Humor is an 1888 anthology of short humorous works compiled by Mark Twain, pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, William Dean Howells and Charles Hopkins Clark.

In 1880, George Gebbie suggested to Mark Twain that he publish an anthology of humorous works. The idea evolved into a project financed by Clemens to produce an anthology of American humor with himself as editor and Howells and Clark assisting. Clemens did the least work on the project, but he remained in control and had the final say in everything. He realized how minor his role had been and wanted to put Howells's name on the title page, but a legal agreement with Harper and Brothers that Howells' name would only appear on their publications prevented this, and Harper and Brothers wanted US$2,500 (approximately $50,000 with inflation) for a release, compelling Howells to sign the Introduction as "The Associate Editors." The book was published in 1888 by Charles L. Webster & Company. When that firm collapsed in 1894, Harper and Brothers took over the publication of all of Clemens' works. The Library of Humor was a valuable piece, containing many copyrighted works by many distinguished and popular authors. Secretary of Harper and Brothers Frederick A. Duneka had it revamped and expanded by Burges Johnson for a multi-volume revival in 1906. The title and Apology were kept, but the result was wildly different (Clemens's reaction is suggested by the title of Johnson's Fall 1937 article in the Mark Twain Quarterly, "When Mark Twain Cursed Me"); so different that one authority has said that it should have really been called The Harper Library of Humor.

Printer's devil

A printer's devil was an apprentice in a printing establishment who performed a number of tasks, such as mixing tubs of ink and fetching type. A number of notable men served as printer's devils in their youth, including Ambrose Bierce, William Dean Howells, James Printer, Benjamin Franklin, Raymond C. Hoiles, Samuel Fuller, Thomas Jefferson, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Joel Chandler Harris, Warren Harding, Lawrence Tibbett, John Kellogg, Lyndon Johnson, Hoodoo Brown, James Hogg, Joseph Lyons, Albert Parsons, Meade Huggins and Lázaro Cárdenas.

Redtop (Belmont, Massachusetts)

Redtop – also spelled Red Top – is a historic Shingle Style house located at 90 Somerset Street, Belmont, Massachusetts. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971 for its association with writer and literary critic William Dean Howells (1837–1920), a leading proponent of realism in literature. The Shingle Style house was designed by Howells' brother-in-law William Rutherford Mead, and served as the Howells' residence from its construction in 1877 to 1882.

The Rise of Silas Lapham

The Rise of Silas Lapham is a realist novel by William Dean Howells published in 1885. The story follows the materialistic rise of Silas Lapham from rags to riches, and his ensuing moral susceptibility. Silas earns a fortune in the paint business, but he lacks social standards, which he tries to attain through his daughter's marriage into the aristocratic Corey family. Silas' morality does not fail him. He loses his money but makes the right moral decision when his partner proposes the unethical selling of the mills to English settlers.

Howells is known to be the father of American realism, and a denouncer of the sentimental novel. The resolution of the love triangle of Irene Lapham, Tom Corey, and Penelope Lapham highlights Howells' rejection of the conventions of sentimental romantic novels as unrealistic and deceitful.

The Whole Family

The Whole Family: a Novel by Twelve Authors (1908) is a collaborative novel told in twelve chapters, each by a different author. This unusual project was conceived by novelist William Dean Howells and carried out under the direction of Harper's Bazaar editor Elizabeth Jordan, who (like Howells) would write one of the chapters herself. Howells' idea for the novel was to show how an engagement or marriage would affect and be affected by an entire family. The project became somewhat curious for the way the authors' contentious interrelationships mirrored the sometimes dysfunctional family they described in their chapters. Howells had hoped Mark Twain would be one of the authors, but Twain did not participate. Other than Howells himself, Henry James was probably the best-known author to participate. The novel was serialized in Harper's Bazaar in 1907-08 and published as a book by Harpers in late 1908.

Through the Eye of the Needle

Through the Eye of the Needle: A Romance is a 1907 Utopian novel written by William Dean Howells. It is the final volume in Howells's "Altrurian trilogy," following A Traveler from Altruria (1894) and Letters of an Altrurian Traveler (1904).Like the second book in the trilogy, Howells casts the third and final book in the form of an epistolary novel — a form favored by some other Utopian and dystopian writers. (For examples, see: The Republic of the Future; Caesar's Column.) In the final book, Aristides Homos, Howells's Altrurian protagonist, writes a series of letters home to his friend Cyril. Homos is now located in the densely urban environment of New York City, where he confronts the contrasts between America c. 1900 and his own pastoral and agrarian Utopianism in their most extreme forms.

The dramatic center of the book is the love affair between Homos and Evelith Strange, a wealthy widow of the American plutocracy. Evelith has chosen the life of a socialite because she is frustrated by the limited effects of "good works" — though her routine of idleness conflicts with her Christian values and her conscience. Evelith must decide whether to abandon her social position and her fortune to follow Homos back to Altruria. Eventually, Evelith marries Homos, and both she and her mother return with him to Altruria. Curiously, the mother-in-law finds the adjustment relatively easy, since she realizes that she has returned to the simpler life she knew in her youth.

Howells gives the moral writings of Leo Tolstoy an important role in the book — though not with naive acceptance. At one point, Evelith tells Homos that "Tolstoy himself doesn't destroy his money, though he wants other people to do it. His wife keeps it and supports the family."

The story also includes Homos's travels abroad, and his commentaries on the societies he visits.

William Dean Howells House

William Dean Howells House may refer to:

William Dean Howells House (Cambridge, Massachusetts), listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Cambridge, Massachusetts

William Dean Howells House (Kittery Point, Maine), listed on the National Register of Historic Places in York County, Maine

William Dean Howells House (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

The William Dean Howells House is a house built and occupied by American author William Dean Howells and family. It is located at 37 Concord Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts. The house was designed by Howell's wife, Elinor Mead, and occupied by the family from 1873-1878. Authors including Mark Twain, Henry James, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Thomas Bailey Aldrich visited the Howells in this house, as did President James Garfield, and Helen Keller lived there afterwards while attending school.

William Dean Howells House (Kittery Point, Maine)

The William Dean Howells House is a historic house at 36 Pepperrell Road in Kittery Point, Maine. Built c. 1870, this house was for many years the summer residence of writer and editor William Dean Howells, best known as editor of Atlantic Monthly magazine. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 (where the listing misspells the name "Howels").

William Dean Howells Medal

The William Dean Howells Medal is awarded by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Established in 1925 and named for William Dean Howells, it is given once every five years, generally in recognition of the most distinguished American novel published during that period, although some awards have been made to novelists for their general body of work. The recipient of the award is chosen, by a committee drawn from the membership of the Academy, from among those candidates nominated by a member of the Academy.

William Dean Howells
Short stories

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