Friday, December 31, 2010

Salem Chapel - Chronicles of Carlingford

Salem Chapel
by Mrs. Oliphant
Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1865

Book 4 in the Chronicles of Carlingford.
First published in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, February 1862 to January 1863.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Rector and The Doctor's Family - Chronicles of Carlingford

The Rector and The Doctor's Family
by Mrs. Oliphant
Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1870
Books 2 and 3 in The Chronicles of Carlingford
  • Book 2 - The Rector - first published in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 90, September 1861
  • Book 3 - The Doctor's Family - first published in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volumes 90-91, October 1861 to January 1862

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Executor - Chronicles of Carlingford

The Executor
Book 1 in The Chronicles of Carlingford
by Mrs. Oliphant
New York: Harper & Brothers, 1862

First published in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine,

Volume 89, May 1861

The Executor is the opening story in Mrs. Oliphant's popular series centered in the fictional town of Carlingford. It is a short story and introduces the reader to some of the major characters who will appear throughout the series.

The second story in the series, The Doctor's Family, is published in this same Harper & Brothers edition beginning on page 50.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Old Sue the Tug-Mule - by Thomas Nelson Page

Old Sue the Tug-Mule
by Robert Nelson Page
Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Vol 85, 1892, p 157

This very short story was published in the Editor's Drawer section of Harper's New Monthly Magazine in 1892 and included in later collections of stories by Thomas Nelson Page. While Page is noted for his use of Negro dialect, and this story is an example of that use, what was of interest to me was the vignette of Richmond, Virginia that this story gives. The action is centered on the intersection of 9th and Main Streets. Old Sue, a tug-mule, was hitched to streetcars making the turn to go up the hill on 9th to Broad Street. As I know the intersection of 9th and Broad well (the Library of Virginia is located there today), it was fascinating to get a glimpse of the past.

The narrator of the story tells us that he was able to see the intersection of 9th and Main from his office window. I know that Page practiced law in Richmond for a time, but I have no idea where his office was located. Nor do I know if this story is pure fiction or based on observations Page himself made. In either case, it is a fascinating vignette of Richmond in the late 19th century.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Bachelor's Christmas - by Robert Grant

The Bachelor's Christmas
by Robert Grant
In The Bachelor's Christmas and Other Stories
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1902

A charming Christmas story, one of my favorites!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Indian Summer - by W. D. Howells

Indian Summer
by William Dean Howells
Boston: Tiknor and Company, 1886

Set in Florence, this novel gives a view of the American community there in the 1880s. It was apparently a sizeable community and quite active. The setting is of interest for it depicts Florence at the time that Henry James and Constance Fenimore Woolson were there.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mr. Rochester's Virginia Equivalent

Today in the mail I received a reprint of the diary of Elizabeth Lindsay Lomax written in Washington DC between the years 1854 and 1863. It is a charming diary, full of observations of her family, the weather, and other Washington residents. I had ordered it thinking there might be some useful information for a project I was considering.

In the entry for February 3, 1854 she writes: "Raining, snowing, blowing. Stormy without but cozy within. A perfect day for reading by one's own fireside. I have been absorbed in reading Jane Eyre. The characters must have been drawn from life with remarkable sincerity. I once knew a man like Rochester. George Wycke of Virginia. A most fascinating person."

Of course I immediately googled George Wycke but couldn't find much. There was a man by that name in Surry County, Virginia, but that's about all I could find about him. I will continue to search, for I'd like to know how he was like Mr. Rochester.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tolstoy's Complete Works in English

I have organized my digital collection of the Complete Works of Tolstoy as translated and edited by Leo Wiener and published by Dana Estes & Company in Boston and J. M. Dent & Company in London in 1904-1905. It's not that I think Wiener was the best translator of Tolstoy; I don't. In my opinion Louise and Aylmer Maude were the best 19th century translators of Tolstoy's work, and Tolstoy apparently agreed. The reason I have collected Wiener's translations is that they are readily available at Google Books, although it does take some persistence to find and download them all. (I'm still looking for Volume 18.) The Estes and Dent editions match up volume by volume in terms of content and publication date. Here is a chart showing what I have downloaded from Google Books:

Complete Works of Tolstoy
Leo Wiener, editor and translator
Boston: Dana Estes & Company
London: J.M. Dent & Company

(In my digital library as of 12-7-2010)

Volume 1

Childhood, Boyhood and Youth

London: J.M. Dent & Co. 1904

Volume 2

A Landed Proprietor
The Cossacks

Boston: Dana Estes & Company, 1904

Volume 3

A Moscow Acquaintance
The Snot-Storm
Domestic Happiness

Boston: Dana Estes & Company, 1904

Volume 4

Pedagogical Articles

London: J.M. Dent & Co. 1904

Volume 5

War and Peace Vol 1

Boston: Dana Estes & Co. 1904

Volume 6

War and Peace Vol 2

Boston: Dana Estes & Co. 1904

Volume 7

War and Peace Vol 3

Boston: Dana Estes & Co. 1904

Volume 8

War and Peace Vol 4 - Epilogue

Boston: Dana Estes & Co. 1904

Volume 9

Anna Karenina Vol 1

Boston: Dana Estes & Co. 1904

Volume 10

Anna Karenina Vol 2

Boston: Dana Estes & Co. 1904

Volume 11

Anna Karenina Vol 3

Boston: Dana Estes & Co. 1904

Volume 12

Fables for Children
Stories for Children
Natural Science Stories
Popular Education
Moral Tales

New York and Boston: Colonial Press Co.

Volume 13

My Confession
Critique of Dogmatic Theology

Boston: Dana Estes & Co. 1904

Volume 14

The Four Gospels Harmonized and Translated, Vol 1

Boston: Dana Estes & Co. 1904

Volume 15

The Four Gospels Harmonized and Translated, Vol 2

Boston: Dana Estes & Co. 1904

Volume 16

My Religion
Thoughts on God and the Meaning of Life

London: J.M. Dent & Co. 1904

Volume 17

What Shall We Do Then?
On the Moscow Census
Collected Articles

London: J.J. Dent & Co. 1904

Volume 18

Volume 19

Walk in the Light While Ye Have Light
Thoughts and Aphorisms

Boston: Dana Estes & Co. 1905

Volume 20

The Kingdom of God Is Within You
Christianity and Patriotism

Boston: Dana Estes & Co. 1905

Volume 21

Resurrection Vol 1

Boston: Dana Estes & Co. 1904

Volume 22

Resurrection Vol 2
What is Art?
The Christian Teaching

Boston: Dana Estes & Co. 1904

Volume 23

Miscellaneous Letters and Essays

Boston: Dana Estes & Company 1905

Volume 24

Latest Works
General Index

London: J.M. Dent & Co. 1905

Monday, December 6, 2010

Miss Godwin's Inheritance - by Thomas Nelson Page

Miss Godwin's Inheritance
by Thomas Nelson Page
First published in Scribner's Magazine, 1904

A story of character. This is a wonderful story. Set mostly in Maine, it tells the story of Hortensia Davison, a widow in her forties residing in an unnamed Southern city, who has wearied of the emptiness of society. She buys a house in southern Maine with the view of restoring the house and gardens to their former glory. In the process, she comes to know a local, Miss Godwin, who embodies all that Mrs. Davison had found lacking in her life. This is a beautiful story, and the portrayal of Miss Godwin is one of the best I have ever read.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thomas Nelson Page

Thomas Nelson Page
Portrait from The Book Buyer, Vol 14, February - July 1897, page 241
Biography from Library of Southern Literature, Vol 9, 1907

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Dark Night's Work - by Elizabeth Gaskell

A Dark Night's Work
by Elizabeth Gaskell
London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1863

Click here for a review of this story of deception by Elizabeth Gaskell. The review was published in The British Quarterly Review, Volume 45, January and April, 1867, page 415, last paragraph on the page.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Margery - by E. F. Benson

by E. F. Benson
Garden City NY: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1911

"The central issue in Margery, by E. F. Benson, is whether a young woman, replete with the joy of living, can find happiness in marriage with a man who has never in his life known a passion warmer than his delight in Grecian urns and Tanagra figurines." (Review in The Bookman, Volume 34, 1912, p 311.)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dr. Lavendar's People - by Margaret Deland

Dr. Lavendar's People
by Margaret Deland
New York and London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1903

In the fictional town of Old Chester, Pennsylvania Margaret Deland created a delightful series of short stories and novels. Reminiscent of Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell and the Mitford series by Jan Karon, the books are full of charm. Dr. Lavendar is the town's Episcopal minister. He was beloved by readers in Margaret Deland's time, his faith full of common sense, compassion, empathy and practicality. These novels and stories are delightful to read.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Washington Square - by Henry James

Washington Square
by Henry James
New York and London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1901

Originally published in 1880 in Cornhill Magazine and Harper's New Monthly Magazine.

Monday, November 29, 2010

John Ward, Preacher - By Margaret Deland

John Ward, Preacher
by Margaret Deland
Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1888

A Presbyterian minister marries a young woman brought up as an Espicopalian. Published the same year as Robert Elsmere by Mrs. Humphry Ward and often compared to it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Robert Elsmere - by Mrs. Humphry Ward

Robert Elsmere
by Mrs. Humphry Ward
London: Macmillan and Company, 1888

An immensely popular novel, quickly selling over a million copies.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Famous American Belles of the Nineteenth Century

Famous American Belles of the Nineteenth Century
By Virginia Tatnall Peacock
Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1901

  • Marcia Burns (Mrs. John Peter Van Ness)
  • Theodosia Burr (Mrs. Joseph Alston)
  • Elizabeth Patterson (Madame Jerome Bonaparte)
  • The Caton Sisters
  • Margaret O'Neill (Mrs. John H. Eaton)
  • Cora Livingston (Mrs. Thomas Pennant Barton)
  • Emily Marshall (Mrs. William Foster Otis)
  • Octavia Walton (Madame Le Vert)
  • Fanny Taylor (Mrs. Thomas Harding Ellis)
  • Jessie Benton (Mrs. John C. Fremont)
  • Sallie Ward (Mrs. George F. Downs)
  • Harriet Lane (Mrs. Henry Elliott Johnston)
  • Adele Cutts (Mrs. Robert Williams)
  • Emilie Schaumburg (Mrs. Hughes-Hallett)
  • Kate Chase (Mrs. William Sprague)
  • Mattie Ould (Mrs. Oliver Schoolcraft)
  • Jennie Jerome (Lady Randolph Churchill)
  • Nellie Hazeltine (Mrs. Frederick W. Paramore)
  • Mary Victoria Leiter (Baroness Curzon of Kedleston)
  • New York as a Social Center

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ancient walls . . .

Ancient walls that sing the distant hours.

From The Distant Hours
by Kate Morton
Page 67 of the ebook version.

This is a line written, as the story in the book goes, by Raymond Blythe and quoted to the protagonist, Edie Burchill, by her mother. I find it a beautiful image.

The Distant Hours - by Kate Morton

The Distant Hours
by Kate Morton

I have begun reading The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, my first purchase for my new Sony PRS-950 e-reader, my second Sony e-reader, replacing my beloved 505. I love the 950 too.

The Distant Hours has captivated me in just a few pages. The protagonist, Edie Burchill, is the kind of person I would love to have as a friend. She works in a small publishing house on Notting Hill in London. She loves books, especially 19th century literature, and counts characters from those books among her friends. She carries a copy of Jane Eyre with her for those times she finds herself waiting in line.

I won't summarize the plot here. For one thing, I have just begun reading the book and don't know the plot. Also, I know you will enjoy the book if the description of Edie appeals to you. As I have said many times before, I want to care about the characters in the books I'm reading. If I don't care about them, I am not likely to finish the book. I do care about Edie and hope she will appeal to others as well.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Eldest Son - by Archibald Marshall

The Eldest Son
by Archibald Marshall
New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1911

Another of Archibald Marshall's delightful series about the Clinton family of Kencote. Marshall's novels have been compared to those of Anthony Trollope. In this second novel of the series, Dick, the eldest son of Squire Clinton, chooses a wife - and his father objects.

The first novel in the series is The Squire's Daughter.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Birthplace of Thomas Hardy

The birthplace of Thomas Hardy
from Thomas Hardy's Wessex by Hermann Lea
London: Macmillan and Company, 1913, page xix

Sight Unseen - by Mary Roberts Rinehart

Sight Unseen
By Mary Roberts Rinehart
New York: George H. Duran Company, 1921

Suicide or murder? A paranormal experience?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Carlyles - by Mrs. Burton Harrison

The Carlyles - A Story of the Fall of the Confederacy
by Mrs. Burton Harrison, aka Constance Cary Harrison
New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1906

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Confession by Mary Roberts Rinehart

The Confession
by Mary Roberts Rinehart
Page 175 of Sight Unseen and The Confession
New York: The Review of Reviews Company, Publishers, 1921

A compelling read.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The End of an Era - by John S. Wise

The End of an Era
by John Sergeant Wise
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company
The Riverside Press, 1899

I have begun reading this autobiography by the son of Virginia Governor Henry Wise, who was elected to the governorship in 1855. Son John was 9 when his father was elected governor and the family moved to the Governor's Mansion in Richmond. Although I have read that some of the facts in the book are wrong, I am enjoying reading about the antics of this lively boy in antebellum Richmond.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Winnie Davis

In looking for information about Varina Anne "Winnie" Davis and her travels in Europe in 1890, I found the following photo in Book Notes, Volume I, July - December 1898. The middle initial J., as appears in the caption, probably refers to Jefferson. Called Winnie to distinguish her from her mother, Varina Howell Davis, Winnie died on September 18th, 1898 at the age of 34.

Lucia Dare - by Sarah Anne Dorsey

Lucia Dare
by Sarah Anne Dorsey
New York: M. Doolady, Publisher, 1867

Sarah Anne Dorsey was a childhood friend of Varina Howell Davis. She was an ardent supporter of the Confederacy, and after the war she provided a home for Jefferson Davis and assisted him in writing his memoirs, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. The home, called Beauvoir, in Biloxi, Mississippi, was willed to Jefferson Davis on the death of Mrs. Dorsey in 1879.

Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey
by Jane Austen
Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1903

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hester - by Mrs. Oliphant

by Margaret Oliphant
New York: Macmillan & Co., 1883

Youth and energy versus age and experience.

Click the title at the beginning of this post or click here to read/download the book.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Curate In Charge - by Mrs. Oliphant

The Curate in Charge
By Margaret Oliphant
London: Macmillan and Co., 1883

Click the title at the beginning of this post or click here to read or download Mrs. Oliphant's novel about a failed priest.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Publishers' Trademarks (19th century)

Publishers' Trade-marks
1st Paper
Book Buyer, Volume 5, 1888-89

This illultrated article describes the trademarks of several 19th century publishers. The Book Buyer was published by Charles Scribners' Sons and is a wonderful resource for those interested in 19th century literature.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I found the following in The Book Buyer, Volume 5, February 1888 to January 1889:

Pride and Prejudice - 1889 edition

Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen
New York: Frederick A. Stokes & Brother, 1889

From the title page - the publisher's trademark.

Click the title at the beginning of this post or click here to view/download the book.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Social Life in Richmond During the War

Social Life in Richmond During the War
by Edward M. Alfriend
Cosmopolitan Magazine, Volume XII, 1891

A wonderful description of Richmond during the American Civil War, illustrated with several portraits. Well worth reading as the beginning of the sesquicentennial commemoration of the war approaches.

To read the article, click on the title at the beginning of this post, or click here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tales of Men and Ghosts by Edith Wharton

Tales of Men and Ghosts
by Edith Wharton
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910
  • The Bolted Door
  • His Father's Son
  • The Daunt Diana
  • The Debt
  • Full Circle
  • The Legend
  • The Eyes
  • The Blond Beast
  • Afterward
  • The Letters
To download or read online, click the title or here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Belle of the Fifties - by Virginia Clay-Clopton

A Belle of the Fifties
by Virginia Clay-Clopton
New York: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1904

Very entertaining memoir by Mrs. Clay, whose husband, Clement C. Clay, was imprisoned after the end of the American Civil War together with Jefferson Davis.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart

The Circular Staircase
by Mary Roberts Rinehart
New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1908

Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876-1958) was an American mystery writer often compared to Agatha Christie.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Gates Ajar - by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps

The Gates Ajar
by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps
Boston: Fields, Osgood, & Co.

A popular novel about life after death, giving comfort to those who had lost husbands, sons or brothers in the American Civil War.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Margaret Deland - From Women Authors In Their Homes

Women Authors of Our Day In Their Homes
Francis Whiting Halsey, Editor
New York: James Pott & Co., 1903

Chapter on Margaret Deland

Other authors discussed:
  • Marion Harland Pompton
  • Bertha Runkle
  • Agnes Repplier
  • Lucas Malet
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Kate Douglas Wiggin
  • Mary Johnston
  • John Oliver Hobbes
  • Amelia E. Barr
  • Louise Chandler Moulton
  • Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • Mrs. Sherwood
  • Blanche Willis Howard
  • Harriet Prescott Spofford
  • A.D.T. Whitney
  • Margaret E. Sangster
  • Ruth McEnery Stuart
  • Mary E. Wilkins
  • Julia Ward Howe
  • Jeannette L. Gilder
  • Edith Wharton
  • Gertrude Atherton
  • Mary Mapes Dodge
  • Rebecca Harding Davis
  • Edith M. Thomas
  • Elizabeth Stuart Phelps
I am amazed at how many of the names on this list I have never heard of!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Four Civil War Memoirs by Women

Confederate Veteran, Volume 28, 1920, page 420
Four Remarkable Biographies

Reviews of the books of four southern women of the 1860s who have written biographies and memoirs:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Search for an Ancestor - by Sara Pryor

Sara Pryor, also known as Mrs. Roger Pryor, is best known for her Civil War memoir Reminiscences of Peace and War. She also wrote a short story called A Search for an Ancestor, which is delightful.

A Search for an Ancestor
by Sara Pryor
The Century Magazine, Volume 49, (Nov 1894 - Apr 1895) pp 855-864

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sarah Orne Jewett

From Literary Boston Today

Julia Ward Howe

From Literary Boston of Today
Julia Ward Howe - The Battle Hymn of the Republic

"Mine Eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord . . . "

Literary Boston of Today (1902)

Wishing I could travel back in time to Boston of 1902.

Literary Boston of Today [1902]
by Helen Maria Winslow
Boston: L. C. Page & Company, 1902

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dogs of Noted Americans (1888)

As a dog lover, this two-part article caught my eye. It is from St. Nicholas magazine, Volume 15, Part 2 for May to October 1888. I found these articles while looking for the name of Mrs. Deland's dog.

Dogs of Noted Americans

Part I
  • General James A. Garfield
  • General Robert E. Lee
  • Edward Eggleston
  • John G. Whittier
  • Constance F. Woolson
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett
Part II
  • John Burroughs
  • T. G. Aldrich
  • Frank R. Stockton

Mrs. Deland and Her Dog - Photo

This photo is from an article in Good Housekeeping Magazine, Volume 44, 1907, page 506. The dog is a "bob-tailed sheep dog . . . from the kennels of Mrs. Richard Harding Davis".

The Truth of the Novel - by Margaret Deland

Articles by Margaret Deland published in The Independent, Volume 51, 1899:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Margaret Deland's Reception Room

The following illustration is from the National Magazine, Volume 9, 1899, page 527. It depicts the reception room in Margaret Deland's home on Mount Vernon Street in Boston. The windowsill is lined with pots of hyacinths; and there are bookshelves against the wall.

Margaret Deland Comments on Dr. Lavendar

The central character in Margaret Deland's tales of Old Chester is the minister Dr. Lavendar. He is a wonderful character. One wishes he were a real person.

In an interview in the New York Times of March 28, 1920, Mrs. Deland has the following to say about Dr. Lavendar:

"She denied him a flesh-and-blood embodiment but she said he was a composite of her husband, and an uncle of hers, Dr. William Campbell, once President of Rutgers College. 'But Dr. Lavendar was also made up,' she said; 'I had thought of an old minister as a moving factor in a series of stories of plain folk; so I just put certain qualities, like butter and eggs, together, and Dr. Lavendar was the cake.'"

The article goes on to say that people had written to Mrs. Deland to ask for Dr. Lavendar's address so that they might put themselves under his spiritual guidance. It would indeed be wonderful to have someone like Dr. Lavendar in one's life. He is a wonderful combination of common sense and spiritual light and has a way with those who seek his guidance in Mrs. Deland's tales of Old Chester.

Around Old Chester- by Margaret Deland

Around Old Chester
by Margaret Deland
New York: Harper and Brothers
c. 1898, 1915 edition

American author Margaret Deland (1857-1945) is perhaps best known for her novel John Ward, Preacher (1888). She also wrote a series of stories set in the fictional town of Old Chester, Pennsylvania. These are delightful stories which remind me of Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Chronicles of Carlingford - The Executor

The Executor
by Margaret Oliphant
Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine
Volume 89, pages 595-614
May 1861

The Executor is the first story in Mrs. Oliphant's Chronicles of Carlingford series. Other titles in the series are:
  • The Rector
  • The Doctor's Family
  • Salem Chapel
  • The Perpetual Curate
  • Miss Marjoriebanks
  • Phoebe Junior

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Women Who Make Our Novels (1918)

The Women Who Make Our Novels
by Grant M. Overton
New York: Moffat, Yard & Company, 1918

Chapters on
  • Edith Wharton
  • Alice Brown
  • Ellen Glasgow
  • Gertrude Atherton
  • Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • Kathleen Norris
  • Margaret Deland
  • Gene Stratton-Porter
  • Eleanor H. Porter
  • Kate Douglas Wiggin
  • Mary Johnston
  • Corra Harris
  • Mary Austin
  • Mary S. Watts
  • Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
  • Anna Katharine Green
  • Helen R. Martin
  • Sophie Kerr
  • Marjorie Benton Cooke
  • Grace S. Richmond
  • Willa Sibert Cather
  • Clara Louise Burnham
  • Demeira Vaka
  • Edna Ferber
  • Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  • Amelia E. Barr
  • Alice Duer Miller
  • Eleanor Hallowell Abbott
  • Harriet T. Comstock
  • Honore Willsie
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett
Click on the title at the beginning of this post to view/download this book at Google Books.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Review - The Shape of Fear and Other Ghostly Tales

Review from The Bookman, Volume 8
September 1898 - February 1899, p 492

The Shape of Fear and Other Ghostly Tales
by Mrs. Elia Peattie

Aunt Ann's Ghost Story

Aunt Ann's Ghost Story
by Laurence Oliphant
First published in 1864

A ghost story set in Ukraine. Click on the title to go to a downloadable version at Google Books.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Open Door - A Ghost Story

The Open Door
by Margaret Oliphant

The link in the title above will take you to The Open Door by Margaret Oliphant as it was published in Great Ghost Stories, Selected by Joseph Lewis French, published in 1918.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Verdict of Old Age

The Verdict of Old Age
by Margaret Oliphant
Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine
Vol. 160, October 1896, pp 555-571

The link on the title above will take you to the first page of the article by Margaret Oliphant at Google Books.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Modern Novelists - Great and Small (1855)

Modern Novelists - Great and Small
by Margaret Oliphant
Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine
Vol 77, May 1855, pp 554-563

Mrs. Oliphant discusses novelists of the day, providing insight into her own methods of writing novels.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Review - The Squire's Daughter

The Squire's Daughter
by Archibald Marshall
First published in 1912

The Squire's Daughter is the first book in a series known as the Clinton Family Chronicles by Archibald Marshall (1866-1934). Reviews contemporaneous with the publication of his novels compared Marshall with Anthony Trollope, and from what I have read so far, I find the comparison apt. I don't understand why this series has fallen into obscurity.

Squire Edward Clinton lives at his country home of Kencote with his wife, his daughter Cecily, and twin daughters of 13 Joan and Nancy. Four grown sons, Dick, Humphrey, Walter and Frank, live away from home. Cecily, age 22, is restless living in the country, although she cannot define what would cure of her restlessness. She chafes at her father's restrictions on the women of his household, feeling that her brothers have had more liberal treatment and better education. Brother Walter, who is about to be married, has defied his father's wishes and become a doctor, rather than becoming a clergyman.

The characters are wonderfully drawn. Even the Squire is a sympathetic fellow whom one cannot help liking, despite his foibles. This is a delightful novel and recommended to all who have enjoyed Trollope's Barchester Chronicles, Mrs. Gaskell's Cranford, and Mrs. Oliphant's Carlingford Chronicles.

The Haunted House - by Charles Dickens

From Sensation Novels by Mrs. Oliphant, Blackwood's Magazine, Vol 91, pages 564-584, 1862:

"Of all the productions of the supernatural school, there is none more perfect in its power of sensation, or more entirely affective in its working out, than the short story of the 'Haunted House,' most thrilling of ghostly tales . . . "

The Haunted House
page 329 of The Commercial Traveller and The Haunted House
by Charles Dickens

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Archibald Marshall

Archibald Marshall (1866-1934)

Archibald Marshall wrote a series of novels which sounds promising. The series was mentioned in an article by Maurice Francis Egan, The Return to the Quiet Novel, published in the Bookman, Volume 54, page 17. After discussing how many in England during World War I sought refuge in the novels of Anthony Trollope, Mrs. Oliphant and Mrs. Gaskell, Egan tells how he was made acquainted with a series of novels by Archibald Marshall. Although I have not read them, I have downloaded the following and offer the titles here with links to the downloadable (free) editions at Google Books.

The Squire's Daughter
The Eldest Son
The Honor of the Clintons
The Old Order Changeth
The Clintons and Others

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rainbows from tears

I came across an image in one of Mrs. Oliphant's poems today that greatly appealed to me. The poem is "The Shadow on the Way" published in Blackwood's Magazine in June 1853. Mrs. Oliphant would have been 25 years old when it was published. The poem indicates that she had already experienced sadness and grief, but at 25 she was able to say:

Yet sometimes clouds, a frowning line
Will steal across those kindly skies;
And now and then some tears of mine,
Under this fair and soft sunshine,
Make rainbows to mine eyes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ellen Glasgow's Richmond

I am reading Romance of a Plain Man by Ellen Glasgow. It is set in Richmond, Virginia and opens with scenes on the Church Hill section of the city in 1875. Little Benjy Starr is playing in the churchyard of St. John's Church (where Patrick Henry made his give me liberty or give me death speech). Throughout the novel, or at least what I've read so far, there are real locations mentioned, places that I have seen.

When little Benjy playing in the churchyard cemetery, he comments: "One sleeper among them I came to regard, as I grew somewhat older, almost with affection - not only because he was young and a soldier, but because the tall marble slab implored me to 'tread lightly upon his ashes.' Not once during the many hours when I played in the churchyard, did I forget myself and run over the sunken grave where he lay."

Now I want to know, do that grave and tombstone really exist in St. John's cemetery? A soldier from which war? The story opens in 1875, but my impression of the cemetery is that most of the graves date from long before the Civil War. I sent an email to the church asking if they know of such a grave. If I don't hear back from them, I will go over to there and take a look for myself.

Romance of a Plain Man is a compelling read.

I love novels which convey a sense of place, and Ellen Glasgow was masterful in this regard. Her Richmond comes alive in this book. In doing some online research about Glasgow I found mention of what I thought was a book called Ellen Glasgow's Richmond by Tricia Pearsall. It turned out to be a chapter in a book of essays titled Regarding Ellen Glasgow. After a trip to the Library of Virginia this morning, I am now reading that chapter, longing for the weather to cool off so I can track down some of the houses said to be models for homes in Glasgow's novels.

I also learned that Elizabeth Van Lew was a model for at least one Glasgow character. Van Lew was a Richmond resident who acted as a spy for the Union army. After the Civil War she was shunned by Richmond society. Her house no longer stands, but Glasgow mentions in A Certain Measure that when a shild she heard Van Lew being discussed and saw her from a distance.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Novels Set in Virginia

The Bookman, Volume 33 (1911) (beginning on page 44 of that volume) has a wonderful article titled, The South in Fiction: Virginia, by Louise Collier Willcox. This is part II of a three-part series titled The South in Fiction. The article is illustrated with photos. For those interested in novels with a sense of place, this article is an excellent starting place.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Next Up - The Third Window

The Third Window
by Anne Douglas Sedgwick
Houghton Mifflin Company
The Riverside Press
Cambridge 1920

This novel came up in a Google Books search for ghost stories. It has been called a psychological novel, compared to the work of Henry James. An advertisement in Publishers Weekly states: "In this novel, the pervasive sense, sweeping the world to-day, that the dead may not be dead, is transmuted into a masterpiece of fiction."

This is next up on my reading list.

Bookmark - Mrs Henry Wood

Mrs. Henry Wood

The Lamp of Psyche by Edith Wharton

The title of the story refers to a lamp given to Psyche by Venus by which Psyche is able to learn the identity of her lover. In Edith Wharton's story, "The Lamp of Psyche" Delia Corbett has married Laurence Corbett and is in the full flush of love at the beginning of the story. Delia and Laurence live in Paris. They take a trip to Boston to visit Delia's Aunt Mary.

The story takes place in the year 1891. We learn that Laurence is 52 years old, meaning he would have been born in 1839. Aunt Mary asks Delia what Laurence did during the war, the American Civil War, that is. Delia realizes she does not know. When Delia finally puts the question to Laurence, his answer forever alters her view of him.

This is a fascinating story for those of us who are interested in the American Civil War and its effect on women left at home. In this story, Delia had not even wondered what Laurence had done in the war, so long ago had it been, until Aunt Mary raises the question. I was struck by the thought that had Delia been from the South, rather than from Boston, her memory of the war would not have been so easily set aside.

Mrs. Henry Wood

A couple of weeks ago I started looking at the novels and stories written by Mrs. Henry Wood. This was after I read that Tolstoy had enjoyed her work and had noted that he was reading and enjoying Within the Maze. Yesterday I read one of her ghost stories, Fred Temple's Warning, one of her Johnny Ludlow tales. She seems to have been a very interesting person, and I am surprised that the only biography I have found is the one written by her son, Charles Wood, Memorials of Mrs. Henry Wood, published in 1897. Perhaps her prodigious output has been discouraging to would-be biographers. From what I've read of her work I would say that although she is not on the same level as the great Victorian novelists, her work is good and would be enjoyable to readers who are looking to widen their Victorian novel reading horizons.

Reading today - Edith Wharton

Today I have been reading Edith Wharton stories. I just finished "The Fulness of Life", a story of eternal love. It has been designated a ghost story, and technically that is correct. However, the theme of eternal love is what resonated with me.

Now on to "The Lamp of Psyche".

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Review: God and Man According to Tolstoy

God and Man According to Tolstoy
by Alexander Boot
Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2009
ISBN 13: 978-0-230-61586-1
ISBN 10: 0-230-61586-4

The good: Draws attention to the debate over Tolstoy's mental and physical health.

The bad: Lack of documentation; use of inflammatory language; very small print; the price of the book.

Leo Tolstoy is an icon in world literature. Countless biographies and essays have been written about him, although neutrality and objectivity have eluded many of the authors of those works. It would seem that Tolstoy is one of those persons who inspires either great devotion and veneration or great revulsion and denigration.

Alexander Boot's book, God and Man According to Tolstoy, falls into the latter category.

An important part of this book, and to my mind its chief value, is that it brings attention to the debate over Tolstoy's mental and physical health. This debate, beginning in the 19th century before Tolstoy's death, ranged from what Mr. Boot says today would be called severe personality disorder and/or narcissistic personality disorder; to discussions of whether Tolstoy suffered from epilepsy.

Mr. Boot reports that Tolstoy has been diagnosed with epilepsy. He seems to be relying heavily on a report written in 1930 by a Russian psychiatrist named Aleksandr Mikhaylovich Yevlakhov entitled Konstitutsionalnye osobennosti psikhiki L. N. Tolstogo. And herein lies one of the major shortcomings of Mr. Boot's book: it is sadly lacking in documentation. While there are some endnotes, they are most often merely explanatory rather than citing sources of the information he reports. Yevlakhov is said to have analyzed thousands of pages written by and about Tolstoy, resulting in his diagnosing Tolstoy as suffering from epilepsy. This implies that Yevlakhov did not meet with Tolstoy personally.

Epilepsy is sometimes accompanied by psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety, and Mr. Boot cites this as supporting the view that Tolstoy was epileptic It is undeniable that Tolstoy was subject to depression, as evidenced in his diaries and letters, as well as observations recorded by family and friends.

A list in God and Man According to Tolstoy which purports to show that Tolstoy had an inherited predisposition to mental illness contains at least one serious error: Tolstoy had only one sister, not two as the list states; and other items on this list are questionable. Whether this list comes from Yevlakhov, or from some other source, or was compiled by Mr. Boot himself is unclear.

The question of whether Tolstoy suffered from epilepsy was also addressed by John R. Hughes of the Department of Neurology, School of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago in his 2004 study entitled "Did all those famous people really have epilepsy?" Dr. Hughes concludes that Tolstoy was not epileptic, that the seizures suffered by Tolstoy as he was dying "were very likely reactive attacks, associated with a very high fever, rather than a manifestation of epilepsy with its spontaneous seizures." On the issue of whether Tolstoy was epileptic, I put more credence in Dr. Hughes' views than in Yevlakhov's as reported in God and Man According to Tolstoy.

Did Tolstoy suffer from a personality disorder? This book does not convince me that he did.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

God and Man According to Tolstoy

God and Man According to Tolstoy
by Alexander Boot
Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2009
ISBN 13: 978-0-230-61586-1
ISBN 10: 0-230-61586-4

In today's mail I received a review copy of God and Man According to Tolstoy which I had requested from the publisher in connection with my research into the issue of whether Tolstoy suffered from any form of epilepsy.

I will now begin reading, and a review will be forthcoming shortly.

Ghost Stories

I am once again in a ghost story mood. Yesterday I read The Shell of Sense by Olivia Howard Dunbar, page 69 of Harper's Magazine, Volume 18, December 1908, available at Google Books. It is an interesting story. The spirit of a woman, bound to earth by jealousy and selfishness, struggles against dealing vengeance. It is a very short story, well worth the time to read it.

Now I am in the midst of reading The Shadow World by Hamlin Garland, also available at Google Books, as well as at Project Gutenberg. I am not far into it, and it is unclear to me whether it is a novel or a fictionalized account of what the author purports to be real experiences. At any rate, it is entertaining. There is a woman who is the 19th century version of The Ghost Whisperer. What role she will play in the book as a whole is unclear to me at this point, but so far it is an enjoyable read.

Monday, July 12, 2010

No interlibrary loan

Unfortunately, no one has a copy available for loan of the book by the Russian psychiatrist Segalin concerning his diagnosis of Tolstoy.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tolstoy and epilepsy

I am trying through an interlibrary loan request to borrow a copy of G. V. Segalin's Европатология личности и творчества Льва Толстого (Yevropatologiya lichnosti i tvorchestva Lva Tolstogo), mentioned in Alexander Boot's book, God and Man According to Tolstoy. Segalin is said to have concluded that Tolstoy suffered from "affective epilepsy" characterized by fainting, delirium, hallucinations, and amnesia. What is unclear from what I was able to read in Boot's book in a preview view at Google Books is whether Segalin made this diagnosis after seeing Tolstoy personally, or whether Segalin was relying on the accounts of others. Fingers crossed that the interlibrary loan comes through with a copy for me to peruse - and that my Russian-English dictionary is up to the challenge of a lot of medical terminology.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Did Tolstoy have epilepsy?

Leo Tolstoy has been an interest of mine since 1967. Over the years I have read extensively about his life and works. I published an article in an early number of the Tolstoy Studies Journal related to the chronology of his life and work as compiled by N. N. Gusev; and from 1995 to 2009 (when Geocities ceased to exist) I maintained on online library of digital versions of some of Tolstoy's works, most of which I digitized myself.

Having recently discovered that all 90 volumes of the Jubilee edition of the Complete Works of Tolstoy (in Russian) are now available online, I have recently returned to my research into the life and work of this great author.

A Google Books search turned up a book called God and Man According to Tolstoy by Alexander Boot which states that Tolstoy is believed to have been an epileptic. This was a surprise to me, and I have begun researching this assertion. What I have learned so far is that there is some disagreement as to this diagnosis of Tolstoy being epileptic.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The One Who Looked On

I have discovered another gem, a wonderful novella titled The One Who Looked On by Frances Frederica Montresor. The story begins in Ireland, moves to London, focusing on Susie who never married and never had children of her own, but who was filled with love to share with children who needed someone to love them. It's a wonderful story. Available at Google Books as a free pdf download.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Not All the King's Men

Not All the King's Men: A Novel of Washington Society
by Katherine Elwes Thomas
New York, The Cassell Publishing Co., 1896
Available for free download at Google Books.

Helen Oglethorp Lyman, a widow living in a beautiful home on Washington's Farragut Square, learns that her fortune has diminished to the point where she must make a dramatic retrenchment. She plots her strategy for avoiding this disaster.

This short novel is the best Washington society novel I have read to date. The descriptions of houses, fashions, and social setting are wonderful to read.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Prime Minister by Anthony Trollope

I have begun reading The Prime Minister by Anthony Trollope, book five of the Palliser series. The series consists of the following:

Can You Forgive Her (1864)
Phineas Finn (1869)
The Eustace Diamonds (1873)
Phineas Redux (1874)
The Prime Minister (1876)
The Duke's Children (1879)

This is my second reading, although it has been so many years since I first read it that it is almost like reading it for the first time. I downloaded the epub version from Google Books (three separate volumes) and am reading it on my Sony PRS 505.

As an aside, I just bought a little clip on light to make reading on the Sony easier. It works like a charm and I am very glad I bought it.

Trollope is a master at getting the reader to care about his characters from the very first page of the novel, and he does that in The Prime Minister by introducing us to Emily Wharton, who has fallen in love with Ferdinand Lopez. Emily's father is a widower and has not a clue about how to parent his daughter. He has left much of her upbringing to his wife's sister, Mrs. Roby, who is half in love with Lopez herself. In fact, this plot line in the book reminds me very much of Washington Square by Henry James (first published in 1880, some four years after The Prime Minister). Mr. Wharton's stated objections to Lopez as a son-in-law are that he is not an Englishman (his father was Portuguese); and no one knows anything about his background. Mr. Wharton intuitively distrusts Lopez and is greatly distressed by Emily's obvious feelings for Lopez. Mr. Wharton even considers closing his law practice in London in order to take Emily abroad in an effort to break the hold Lopez seems to have on Emily. Unlike Dr. Sloper in Washington Square, Mr. Wharton esteems his daughter and considers letting her marry Lopez. The reader, privy to some insight into Lopez's motives, hopes Mr. Wharton holds out and prevents the marriage.

A great read!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bookmark - Penguin

Penguin at the Richmond, Virginia Zoo

Penguins are fed at the Richmond Zoo at 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. daily. What a treat to watch these little guys.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The world is a looking-glass . . .

From Vanity Fair
By William Makepeace Thackeray

The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion; and so let all young persons take their choice.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Yes, My Darling Daughter - by Margaret Leroy

Waiting for me at the library today was a book I had put on reserve after reading about it somewhere - I don't remember where now: Yes, My Darling Daughter by Margaret Leroy. What a compelling read! Any woman who has been a single mother with a "difficult" child will identify with Grace Reynolds, struggling to raise three-year-old Sylvie on her own, living on what must surely be a meager salary from her job in a flower shop. Apparently she does get some support from Sylvie's father, but life is a bare bones existence. Adding to Grace's life struggles is Sylvie's odd behavior. She calls Grace by her Christian name, rather than Mum; she goes into frantic fits when water touches her face; she says she has lived in a house by the sea; she tells a friend that she is not the real Lennie.

Sylvie's behavior becomes more and more difficult, leading to her being expelled from her nursery school and asked not to return to Lennie's home. Not knowing how she is going to cope, how to find a new nursery school for Sylvie when all those that she calls are booked up years in advance, Grace learns of a psychologist at a London university who conducts paranormal research with children who seem to remember previous lives.

I have not been able to put this book down. See if your library has a copy or order it.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bookmark - Stained Glass Window

Stained glass window at
St. John's Church
Richmond, Virginia

Where Patrick Henry said:
Give me liberty or give me death."

Meaning of symbol:
IHS - In His Service

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Third Person by Henry James

I am reading another Henry James ghost story, The Third Person, available as a free down load in the collection called The Soft Side, published in 1900. I haven't finished reading it, but at this point I'm wondering if it's a bit tongue-in-cheek. Two second cousins, Miss Susan and Miss Amy Frush, jointly inherit a house which they decide to occupy rather than sell and divide the proceeds. A ghost presents itself, and the two cousins enter into a sort of competition over the ghost. I'm curious to see how it all turns out, which should tell me whether the whole story was meant to be a farce.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bookmark - Lady Rose's Daughter

Lady Henry
from Lady Rose's Daughter
by Mrs. Humphry Ward
A Best Seller in 1903
I have begun reading this delightful novel and am captivated by the character of Lady Henry. She is a lady of great spirit, and I am looking forward to learning more about her, her life and her interaction with Lady Rose's daughter. She is shown here at lunch with Sir Wilfrid who has just returned to London from five years abroad in Teheran, and they are sharing what each knows about Lady Rose's daughter. I like Sir Wilfrid, too. I have known older gentleman such as he, tempered by life experience, beloved and respected by those who know him. This is going to be a very enjoyable read.
Lady Rose's Daughter is available both at Google Books and Project Gutenberg; and soon to be available for Kindle.