William Dean Howells (1837-1920)
American novelist, influential critic and editor of wide-ranging taste, champion of literary realism, of women writers and writers of color, and of social justice. Born and raised in frontier Ohio and largely self-taught, in 1866 Howells moved to Cambridge, Mass., as assistant editor, and soon rose to be editor, of what was then the most influential magazine in the country, the Atlantic Monthly. He immediately recognized the talent of Henry James, Jr., only seven years younger than himself, and provided publication and encouragement. In those early years he and James spent many hours together, talking about methods of fiction and reading their work to each other, and they would become lifelong friends. In 1881 Howells resigned his editorial job to concentrate on his own fiction, and in 1886 he began writing a new editorial column for Harper's Monthly. Howells helped introduce the work of European literary realists to American readers and promoted the careers of many other American writers including Mark Twain, Hamlin Garland, Bret Harte, Sarah Orne Jewett, Charles W. Chesnutt, Paul Laurence Dunbar (writing the introduction to Dunbar's Lyrics of Lowly Life), Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Stephen Crane. Howells' best known novel is The Rise of Silas Lapham.
Introduction & Biography
"William Dean Howells." A short introduction to William Dean Howells. Web site from PBS.
"William Dean Howells Biography," from the W. D. Howells Society.
Arac, Jonathan. "The Age of the Novel, the Age of Empire: Howells, Twain, James around 1900." The Yearbook of English Studies 41, 2 (2011) pp 94-105 [first page only, jstor].
Bramen, Carrie Tirado. "William Dean Howells and the Failure of the Urban Picturesque." The New England Quarterly 73, 1 (March 2000) pp 82-99 [free at jstor].
Daugherty, Sarah B. "Howells Reviews James: The Transcendence of Realism." Daugherty considers the reasons for Howells' great appreciation of Henry James's writing, since James did not really practice the kind of realism that Howells admired. American Literary Realism 18, 1/2 (Spring/Autumn 1985) pp 147-67 [free at jstor].
Daugherty, Sarah B. "William Dean Howells and Mark Twain: The Realism War as a Campaign That Failed." American Literary Realism 29, 1 (Fall 1996) pp 12-28 [free at jstor].
The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885)
Hamilton, Geordie. "Rethinking the Politics of American Realism Through the Narrative Form and Moral Rhetoric of W. D. Howells' The Rise of Silas Lapham." In American Literary Realism 42, 1 (Fall 2009) pp 13-35 [muse].
Marchand, Mary. "Faking It: Social Bluffing and Class Difference in Howells' The Rise of Silas Lapham." In The New England Quarterly 83, 2 (June 2010) pp 283-312 [free at jstor].
Oehlschlager, Fritz. "An Ethic of Responsibility in The Rise of Silas Lapham." In American Literary Realism 23, 2 (Winter 1991) pp 20-34 [free at jstor].
Kohler, Michelle. "Realism and the Perception of Romance in The Rise of Silas Lapham." In American Literary Realism 38, 3 (Spring 2006) pp 223-38 [free at jstor].
Dawson, Melanie. "Searching for 'Common Ground': Class, Sympathy, and Perspective in Howells' Social Fiction." American Literary Realism 39, 3 (Spring 2007) pp 189-212 [free at jstor].
A Hazard of New Fortunes (1890)
Pizer, Donald. "W. D. Howells' A Hazard of New Fortunes: A Mostly Formalist Reading." American Literary Realism 46, 1 (Fall 2013) pp 1-11 [preview or purchase, jstor].
Kaplan, Amy. "The Knowledge of the Line": Realism and the City in Howells' A Hazard of New Fortunes." In PMLA 101, 1 (Jan. 1986) pp 69-81 [free at jstor].
Rennick, Andrew. "'A Good War Story': The Civil War, Substitution, and the Labor Crisis in Howells' A Hazard of New Fortunes." In American Literary Realism 35, 3 (Spring 2003) pp 247-61 [free at jstor].
Bauch, Jonathan. "Public German, Private Jew: The Secret Identity of Berthold Lindau in Howells' A Hazard of New Fortunes." In American Literary Realism 41, 1 (Fall 2008) pp 14-34 [free at jstor].
Mills, Nicolaus. "Class and Crowd in American Fiction." The Centennial Review 24, 2 (Spring 1980) pp 192-217 [free at jstor].
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