William Dean Howells.Born March 1, 1837Martins Ferry (then Martinsville), Ohio, U.S.Died May 11, 1920 (aged 83)BiographyWilliam Dean Howells (March 1, 1837 – May 11, 1920) was an American realist author and literary critic.Nicknamed "The Dean of American Letters", he was particularly known for his tenure as editor of theAtlantic Monthly as well as his own prolific writings, including the Christmas story "Christmas Every Day"and the novel The Rise of Silas Lapham.Early life and familyWilliam Dean Howells was born on March 1, 1837, in Martinsville, Ohio (now known as Martins Ferry,Ohio), to William Cooper and Mary Dean Howells. He was the second of eight children. His father was anewspaper editor and printer, who moved frequently around Ohio. In 1840, the family settled inHamilton, Ohio, where William Cooper Howells oversaw a Whig newspaper and followedSwedenborgianism; their nine years there marked the longest they would stay in one place. Though thefamily had to live frugally, the young Howells was encouraged by his parents in his literary interests.Howells began to help his father with typesetting and printing work at an early age, a job known at thetime as a printers devil. In 1852, his father arranged to have one of Howells poems published in theOhio State Journal without telling him.Early careerIn 1856, Howells was elected as a clerk in the State House of Representatives. In 1858 he began to workat the Ohio State Journal where he wrote poetry, short stories, and also translated pieces from French,Spanish, and German. He studied avidly German and other languages and was greatly interested inHeinrich Heine. In 1860 he visited Boston and met with other American writers James Thomas Fields,James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, andRalph Waldo Emerson, and became a personal friend to many, including Henry Adams, William James,Henry James and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr..The William Dean Howells House in Cambridge, MA wasdesigned by his wife Elinor Mead, and was occupied by Howells and his family from 1873 to 1878.Said tohave been rewarded for an official biography of Abraham Lincoln used during the election of 1860, hegained a consulship in Venice. On Christmas Eve 1862, at the American embassy in Paris, he marriedElinor Mead, a sister of the sculptor Larkin Goldsmith Mead and the architect William Rutherford Mead,the Mead of McKim, Mead, and White. Among their children was the future architect John MeadHowells.Editorship and other literary pursuitsUpon returning to America in 1865 and settling in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Howells wrote for variousmagazines, including the Atlantic Monthly and Harpers Magazine. In January 1866 James Fields offered
him a position as assistant editor at the Atlantic Monthly, which Howells accepted after successfullynegotiating for a higher salary, though he was frustrated by Fieldss close supervision. After five years,in 1871 Howells was made editor, and remained in this position until 1881. In 1869 he first met MarkTwain, which began a longtime friendship. But more important for the development of his literarystyle—his advocacy of Realism—was his relationship with the journalist Jonathan Baxter Harrison, whoduring the 1870s wrote a series of articles for the Atlantic Monthly on the lives of ordinary Americans(Fryckstedt 1958). Howells gave a series of twelve lectures on "Italian Poets of Our Century" for theLowell Institute during its 1870-71 season.He had published his first novel, Their Wedding Journey, in1872, but his literary reputation soared with the realist novel A Modern Instance, published in 1882,which described the decay of a marriage. His 1885 novel The Rise of Silas Lapham became his bestknown, describing the rise and fall of an American entrepreneur of the paint business. His social viewswere also strongly represented in the novels Annie Kilburn (1888), A Hazard of New Fortunes (1890),and An Imperative Duty (1892). He was particularly outraged by the trials resulting from the HaymarketRiot.His poems were collected in 1873 and 1886, and a volume under the title Stops of Various Quillswas published in 1895. He was the initiator of the school of American realists who derived, through theRussians, from Balzac and had little sympathy with any other type of fiction, although he frequentlyencouraged new writers in whom he discovered new ideas.Later yearsIn 1902, Howells published The Flight of Pony Baker, a book for children partly inspired by his ownchildhood. That same year, he bought a summer home overlooking the Piscataqua River in Kittery Point,Maine. He returned there annually until his death two decades later, when his son donated the propertyto Harvard University as a memorial. In 1904 he was one of the first seven people chosen formembership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, of which he became president.In February1910, Elinor Howells began using morphine to treat her worsening neuritis. She died on May 6, a fewdays after her birthday, and only two weeks after the death of Howellss friend Mark Twain. HenryJames offered his condolences, writing, "I think of this laceration of your life with an infinite sense of allit will mean for you". Howells and his daughter Mildred decided to spend part of the year in theirCambridge home on Concord Avenue though, without Elinor, they found it "dreadful in its ghostlinessand ghastliness".Howells died in his sleep shortly after midnight on May 11, 1920, and was buried inCambridge, Massachusetts. Eight years later his daughter published his correspondence as a biographyof his literary life.Literary theoryIn addition to his own creative works, Howells also wrote criticism, and essays about contemporaryliterary 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 insupport 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,andFrank Norris. It is perhaps in this role that he had his greatest influence. In his "Editors Study" column atthe Atlantic Monthly and, later, at Harpers, he formulated and disseminated his theories of "realism" inliterature.Howells viewed realism as "nothing more and nothing less than the truthful treatment ofmaterial."In defense of the real, as opposed to the ideal, he wrote, "I hope the time is coming when notonly 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, inscience, 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 beenbrought 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."Howells believed the future of American writingwas not in poetry but in novels, a form which he sawshifting from "romance" to a serious form.BRET HARTEThis article is about the American author. For the professional wrestler, see Bret Hart. For other uses,see Bret Harte (disambiguation). Portrait of Bret Harte - oil painting by John Pettie (1884) Francis BretHarte (August 25, 1836 – May 6, 1902) was an American author and poet, best remembered for hisaccounts of pioneering life in California.Life and careerHe was born in Albany, New York, on August 25, 1836. He was named Francis Brett Hart after hisgreat-grandfather Francis Brett. When he was young his father, Henry, changed the spelling of thefamily name from Hart to Harte. Henrys father--Brets grandfather--was Bernard Hart, an OrthodoxJewish immigrant who flourished as a merchant, becoming one of the founders of the The New YorkStock Exchange. Later, Francis preferred to be known by his middle name, but he spelled it with only one
"t", becoming Bret Harte.An avid reader as a boy, Harte published his first work at age 11, a satiricalpoem titled "Autumn Musings," now lost. His formal schooling ended when he was 13 in 1849. Hemoved to California in 1853, later working there in a number of capacities, including miner, teacher,messenger, and journalist. He spent part of his life in the northern California coastal town of Union (nowknown as Arcata), a settlement on Humboldt Bay that was established as a provisioning center formining camps in the interior. The 1860 massacre of between 80 and 200 Wiyots killed at the village ofTutulwat was well documented historically and was reported in San Francisco and New York by Harte.When serving as assistant editor for the Northern Californian, Harte editorialized about the slayingswhile his boss, Stephen G. Whipple, was temporarily absent, leaving Harte in charge of the paper. Hartepublished a detailed account condemning the event, writing, "a more shocking and revolting spectaclenever was exhibited to the eyes of a Christian and civilized people. Old women wrinkled and decrepit layweltering in blood, their brains dashed out and dabbled with their long grey hair. Infants scarcely a spanlong, with their faces cloven with hatchets and their bodies ghastly with wounds." After he publishedthe editorial, his life was threatened and he was forced to flee one month later. Harte quit his job andmoved to San Francisco, where an anonymous letter published in a city paper is attributed to him,describing widespread community approval of the massacre. In addition, no one was ever brought totrial, despite the evidence of a planned attack and references to specific individuals, including a ranchernamed Larabee and other members of the unofficial militia called the Humboldt Volunteers. Hartemarried Anna Griswold on August 11, 1862, in San Rafael, California. From the start, the marriage wasrocky. Some suggested she was handicapped by extreme jealousy while an early biographer of Harte,Henry C. Merwin, privately concluded that she was "almost impossible to live with". Bret Harte in1868.His first literary efforts, including poetry and prose, appeared in The Californian, an early literaryjournal edited by Charles Henry Webb. In 1868 he became editor of The Overland Monthly, another newliterary magazine, but this one more in tune with the pioneering spirit of excitement in California. Hisstory, "The Luck of Roaring Camp", appeared in the magazines second issue, propelling Harte tonationwide fame.When word of Charles Dickenss death reached Bret Harte in July 1870, heimmediately sent a dispatch across the bay to San Francisco to hold back the forthcoming publication ofhis Overland Monthly for twenty-four hours, so that he could compose the poetic tribute, "Dickens inCamp". This work is considered by many of Hartes admirers as his verse masterpiece, for its evidentsincerity, the depth of feeling it displays, and the unusual quality of its poetic expression.Determined topursue his literary career, in 1871 he and his family traveled back East, to New York and eventually toBoston, where he contracted with the publisher of The Atlantic Monthly for an annual salary of $10,000,"an unprecedented sum at the time." His popularity waned, however, and by the end of 1872 he waswithout a publishing contract and increasingly desperate. He spent the next few years struggling topublish new work (or republish old), delivering lectures about the gold rush, and even selling anadvertising jingle to a soap company.In 1878 Harte was appointed to the position of United StatesConsul in the town of Krefeld, Germany and then to Glasgow in 1880. In 1885 he settled in London.During the twenty-four years he spent in Europe, he never abandoned writing, and maintained aprodigious output of stories that retained thefreshness of his earlier work. He died in Camberley, England in 1902 of throat cancer and is buried atFrimley. His wife, by then known as Anna Bret Harte, died on August 2, 1920. Despite being married fornearly forty years, the couple lived together for only sixteen of those years.