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Never one to suffer fools gladly, especially if they wore crinolines, Mark Twain lost as many friends as he made, and he targeted them all indiscriminately. The first major American writer born west of the Mississippi River, he enjoys a reputation unrivaled in American literary history, and from the beginning of his career he tried to control that reputation by fiercely protecting his public persona. Not a debunking account of Twain’s life but refreshingly immune from his relentless image making, Gary Scharnhorst’s Twain in His Own Time offers an anecdotal version of Twain’s life over which the master spin-doctor had virtually no control. The ninety-four recollections gathered in Twain in His Own Time form an unsanitized, collaborative biography designed to provide a multitude of perspectives on the iconic author. Opening with an interview with his mother that has never been reprinted, it includes memoirs by his daughters and by men who knew him when he was roughing it in Nevada and California, an interview with the pilot who taught him to navigate the Mississippi River, reminiscences from his illustrators E. M. Kemble and Dan Beard and two of his so-called adolescent angelfish, contributions from politicians and from such literary figures as Dan De Quille and George Bernard Shaw, and one of the most damning assessments of his character—by the author Frank Harris—ever published. Each entry is introduced by a brief explanation of its historical and cultural context; explanatory notes provide further information about people and places; and Scharnhorst’s introduction and chronology of Twain’s eventful life are comprehensive and detailed. Dozens of lively primary sources published incrementally over more than eighty years, most recorded after his death, illustrate the complexities of this flamboyant, outspoken personality in a way that no single biographer could.
First published in 1978, Silences single-handedly revolutionized the literary canon. In this classic work, now back in print, Olsen broke open the study of literature and discovered a lost continentthe writing of women and working-class people. From the excavated testimony of authors letters and diaries we learn the many ways the creative spirit, especially in those disadvantaged by gender, class and race, can be silenced. Olsen recounts the torments of Melville, the crushing weight of criticism on Thomas Hardy, the shame that brought Willa Cather to a dead halt, and struggles of Virginia Woolf, Olsens heroine and greatest exemplar of a writer who confronted the forces that would silence her. This 25th-anniversary edition includes Olsens now infamous reading lists of forgotten authors and a new introduction and author preface.
More than any other Transcendentalist of his time, Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) embodied the full complement of the movement’s ideals and vocations: author, advocate for self-reform, stern critic of society, abolitionist, philosopher, and naturalist. The Thoreau of our time—valorized anarchist, founding environmentalist, and fervid advocate of civil disobedience—did not exist in the nineteenth century. In this rich and appealing collection, Sandra Harbert Petrulionis untangles Thoreau’s multiple identities by offering a wide range of nineteenth-century commentary as the opinions of those who knew him evolved over time. The forty-nine recollections gathered in Thoreau in His Own Time demonstrate that it was those who knew him personally, rather than his contemporary literati, who most prized Thoreau’s message, but even those who disparaged him respected his unabashed example of an unconventional life. Included are comments by Ralph Waldo Emerson—friend, mentor, Walden landlord, and progenitor of the spin on Thoreau’s posthumous reputation; Nathaniel Hawthorne, who could not compliment Thoreau without simultaneously denigrating him; and John Weiss, whose extended commentary on Thoreau’s spirituality reflects unusual tolerance. Selections from the correspondence of Caroline Healey Dall, Maria Thoreau, Sophia Hawthorne, Sarah Alden Bradford Ripley, and Amanda Mather amplify our understanding of the ways in which nineteenth-century women viewed Thoreau. An excerpt by John Burroughs, who alternately honored and condemned Thoreau, asserts his view that Thoreau was ever searching for the unattainable. The dozens of primary sources in this crisply edited collection illustrate the complexity of Thoreau’s iconoclastic singularity in a way that no one biographer could. Each entry is introduced by a headnote that places the selection in historical and cultural context. Petrulionis’s comprehensive introduction and her detailed chronology of personal and literary events in Thoreau’s life provide a lively and informative gateway to the entries themselves. The collaborative biography that Petrulionis creates in Thoreau in His Own Time contextualizes the strikingly divergent views held by his contemporaries and highlights the reasons behind his profound legacy.
A comprehensive biography of an exemplary woman, this book tells the story of Annie Adams Fields (1834-1915), one of the leading figures in nineteenth-century Boston's cultural circles. Although often defined in terms of her famous husband, publisher James T. Fields of Ticknor & Fields, she was, as this book demonstrates, a person of significant intellectual and social accomplishments in her own right. After Fields entered her remarkable companionate marriage at age twenty, she was welcomed into friendship by such eminent writers as Emerson, Longfellow, Hawthorne, and Dickens. But it was not simply as a dutiful wife that she invited Emerson to lecture to a group of friends in the library of her home, or did literary research for Harriet Beecher Stowe, or advised her husband on submissions to the Atlantic Monthly. As Rita K. Gollin shows, Fields also pursued her own imperatives of self-fulfillment and service to others. A published poet, essayist, and novelist, she also wrote dozens of biographies of famous writers she had known. She founded innovative charities for Boston's poor and campaigned for women's issues, including the right to vote and to be admitted to medical schools. Th
On his wedding day in 1842, Nathaniel Hawthorne escorted his new wife, Sophia, to their first home, the Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts. There, enriched by friendships with Thoreau and Emerson, he enjoyed an idyllic time. But three years later, unable to make enough money from his writing, he returned ingloriously, with his wife and infant daughter, to live in his mother's home in Salem. In 1853 Hawthorne moved back to Concord, now the renowned author of The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables. Eager to resume writing fiction at the scene of his earlier happiness, he assembled a biography of his college friend Franklin Pierce, who was running for president. When Pierce won the election, Hawthorne is appointed the lucrative post of consul in Liverpool. Coming home from Europe in 1860, Hawthorne settled down in Concord once more. He tried to take up writing one last time, but deteriorating health finds him withdrawing into private life. In Hawthorne in Concord, acclaimed historian Philip McFarland paints a revealing portrait of this well-loved American author during three distinct periods of his life, spent in the bucolic village of Concord, Massachusetts.
Prior to the Civil War, publishing in America underwent a transformation from a genteel artisan trade supported by civic patronage and religious groups to a thriving, cut-throat national industry propelled by profit. Literary Dollars and Social Sense represents an important chapter in the historical experience of print culture, it illuminates the phenomenon of amateur writing and delineates the access points of the emerging mass market for print for distributors consumers and writers. It challenges the conventional assumptions that the literary public had little trouble embracing the new literary marketing that emerged at mid-century. The book uncover the tensions that author's faced between literature's role in the traditional moral economy and the lure of literary dollars for personal gain and fame. This book marks an important example in how scholars understand and conduct research in American literature.
“The doctor suddenly appeared beside Will, startling him. Though he smiled reassuringly, the poet noticed that he kept a safe distance. In a soothing, urbane voice, he explained the treatment: stewed prunes to evacuate the bowels; succulent meats to ease digestion; cinnabar and the sweating tub… Desperate diseases called for desperate remedies.” Did Will Shakespeare’s doctors addle his brain with cinnabar and mercury? Was Jane Eyre inspired by the plagued school that claimed the Brontë clan? Did writing 1984 kill George Orwell? Dr John Ross of Harvard Medical School opens his surgery to consult with the likes of Milton, Swift, Melville, Joyce, and Jack London, exploring the history of medicine as never before, from the Bard’s cloaked visits to Southwark to cure his unsavoury rashes to the arsenic-and-horse-serum jabs given for Yeats’s fevers. With novelistic flair and deep expertise, Ross reveals a wholly absorbing new view on the writer’s life.

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