Venetian Life:On a recent visit to Venice I had occasion to obtain and read “Venetian Life” (Vol 1) by William Howell. This fellow’s writing is a real pleasure and it contributed greatly to our Venetian experience. I would enjoy to read volume 2 now. How may I obtain it?

J.P.Gorman, skipndenise at verizon.net



You can often find the two volumes of this work sold separately on eBay; also, abebooks.com has several copies available. If you’d rather get it from a library, try searching WorldCat, which will give you the library closest to your location that has a copy.
Picture of Aurelia Howells: I am vice-president of the Jefferson Historical Society of Jefferson, Ohio. William Dean wrote many of letters to his family back home in Jefferson. Both of his homes are still standing and in use. I am presenting a lecture next week on William Dean as told through the eyes of his sister, Aurelia. I have been unable to locate a photo of his sister. Does anyone have such a picture?

Barbara J. Hamilton, onesouthernwriter at gmail.com 11/15/06


There is a drawing (not a photograph) of Aurelia in Susan Goodman and Carl Dawson’s new biography William Dean Howells: A Writer’s Life (U California P, 2005) in the photo section following page 195.

I am interested in theatricality in Howells’s novels.

A Hazard of New Fortunes would seem to come naturally to mind (looking at the great metropolis through the windows of the Elevated), but I am thinking of a lesser known book, The Lady of the Aroostook (1879). The theatricality of Venice (briefly described towards the end of the novel) contrasts with the absence of theatricality of rural New England (the heroine’s background).

I would welcome any thoughts on the topic of theatricality (linked to this novel or to other novels by Howells), as well as articles or books that might enlighten me.


I wrote my PhD on the theme of economy in W.D. Howells’s novels. I would like to know if the William Dean Society might be interested in articles on this topic. I would also like to try to have my PhD published in the United States. I would appreciate any advice that might help me find a publisher, or any useful contacts!
Guillaume Tanguy 11/15/06

Howells and Obscene LiteratureI am doing research for a professor who is interested in Howells’s views on obscene literature. Do you have any information, or know where I could obtain any, on this subject?

Thanks very much.

Ben Wetzel
Grove City College 11/9/06

Howells in Spain

In October 1911 Howells travelled to Spain. Does anybody know, by chance,who were the persons who accompanied him in this trip or where could I find information regarding this issue?
Thank you very much in advance
Antonio Vicente avicente at uemc.edu 8/23/06

Pages 107 and 108 of the new Howells biography discuss this trip to Spain (William Dean Howells: A Writer’s Life by Susan Goodman and Carl Dawson).  Howells and his daughter Mildred sailed from Boston on July 25, 1911, landing in Wales.  Valdes hosted them in Spain, and they went to Valladolid “‘to revere the house of Cervantes.'”  Goodman and Dawson make the trip seem a highlight in the life of WDH, who even polished his Spanish to speak with Valdes.

Gary Culbert, gary.culbert at gmail dot com 8/24/06

Howells Quotation on Travel and Authorship: reprised 

I am looking for the source of a quotation attributed to Howells: “We were travellers before we were novellers”. Any suggestions?

Charles Baraw baraw63 at mac.com 7-15-06

Howells and Moorefield

Although well known throughout the world, WDH is hardly recognized by the historians in this area of Ohio in which he was nurtured. I am speaking about a little community in Harrison County Ohio called Moorefield. Moorefield is where his family moved and lived by an uncle for a while when he was growing up. I know that he had to have been given some education here because we did have numerous country schools during that time. One our teachers was George Armstrong Custer, who would have been about the same age as Howells, having been born in 1839. Howells was also an acquaintance and classmate of Edwin Stanton. I am researching his local early background at present, and wish to learn any information you have concerning that.


John Hurless (Tippecanoe Jack)tjack at web1.tusco.net, 7/8/06

WDH and moving the literary center of the country to New York

I hoped that maybe someone could help me with a research question. Where, exactly, does Edwin Cady declare that Howells moved the the literary center of the country with him to New York when he (Howells) moved from Boston in 1891? Also, does anyone know the details of Howells living arrangements between 1887-1891? It gets foggy in the biographies I have seen.

Christopher T. Raczkowski,craczkow at indiana.edu 6/28/06

The first printed reference to Howells moving the literary center from Boston to New York may have been in “New England Indian Summer,” by Van Wyck Brooks, New York: E. P. Dutton, 1940, page 2, as follows:

“A campaign biography of Lincoln had brought him [Howells] his appointment as counsul at Venice, and he had set his cap at Boston as the indisputable centre of American letters. Later he was to show the same clairvoyance when the centre passed to New York, or when, as people said, he carried it with him.”

Hope that helps.

Mark Godburn
The Bookmark
Sheffield, MA
email: sheffieldbooks@verizon.net


You will have to do some hunting to get the details of WDH’s living arrangements in this period. When I was trying to nail him down, I literally had to go through the published letters and note the addresses at the top of each letter. All through this period he seems to be moving from location to location. Partly there is the problem with the decline and death of Winnie. Partly it seems that he and Elinor rented apartments, sometimes for just a few months at a time, often in Manhattan, though New York seems to be a kind of pit stop during these years. Good luck.

–Gary Culbert


WDH and Verga

I know that W.D.Howells wrote about Giovanni Verga, the Italian writer, but I couldn’find anything beacuse I don’t know the titles of the things he wrote (maybe articles, or essays…) If someone can help me please write to me.
Bye, eli, ebujovac at yahoo.it 6/28/06

Howells wrote the introduction to the Harper’s 1891 translation of The House by the Medlar Tree (tr. Mary A. Craig), His introduction to the book is five pages long

.Gary Culbert 7-1-06

Howells Editions in Dust Jackets

This is an address and email update to a query I made a few years ago. I am looking for books by Howells in their original paper dust jackets, especially the green cloth books published by Harper & Brothers in the 1900-1921 period. These had yellow dust jackets. Those I have found so far generally have sold for between $20 and $100, depending on title, edition and condition. I am a bookseller but am buying these for myself, not for resale. I’d like to build a full collection of all the Howells books that did have jackets. The earliest Howells title I’ve purchased so far in a paper dust jacket is “Stops of Various Quills,” Harpers, 1895. (Note: some Howells titles from the 1890s had cloth dust jackets which are fairly common and I am less interested in these unless in really fine condition.) Also interested in signed Howells books, letters, photographs, etc. Thank you. Mark Godburn, The Bookmark, 520 Sheffield Plain Road, Sheffield, MA 01257. Email: sheffieldbooks at verizon.net

Mark Godburn 5/18/06

Howells Family Genealogy

Hi, My name is William Howells Vinton and I was wondering if anyone knew William Cooper Howells and William Dean Howells’ roots and if they have a family tree anywhere since then. The reason i am wondering is because obviously my name is Howells which apparently comes from my great-grandmothers maidon name. I was told that my great great grandfather was a writer so the timeline would be correct. This all could be coincidence but I was curious. Thank you.

William Howells Vinton III, vinton.w at neu.edu

Howells and Robert Louis Stevenson

I have been reading Robert louis Stevenson’s literary criticism and notice that, in his defence of ‘romance’ he makes fairly frequent reference to Howells as exemplifying the limitations of realism. Did Howells ever critique Stevenson’s work in his Harper’s Monthly column?arleen mccombieb.mccombie at btinternet.com 4/26/06

I can’t answer your query offhand, but there is background to what you came across. RLS was furious when A Modern Instance was published, as his wife had divorced her husband to marry RLS. He took the book as a personal affront and wrote an intemperate and insulting letter. His anger held even though he admitted WDH’s kindness to him. He did not apologize for his response until 1893. Any work on RLS and WDH probably needs to take this into consideration. You may find a short summary of this event easily on page 267 of Lynn’s biography of WDH.

You can find WDH’s review of “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde” in his Editor’s Study column in Harper’s Monthly for May, 1886.

-Gary Culbert, 5/8/06

Howells’s Library (Martin Faber)I am trying to find out if Howells ever owned a particular novel (_Martin Faber_, by William Gilmore Simms). Was his personal library preserved after his death, and if so, have the contents been kept together in a particular location? I would appreciate any suggestions! Thanks so much!

Elizabeth Ann Dietrich 3/9/06

“The Sea”
Recently I ran into a song in a music book attributed to William Dean Howells and Edward MacDowell titled (at least in my music book) ‘The Sea’ with the lyrics as follows (printed in one block of text on my part):

One sails away to see… one stands on the shore and cries; the ship goes down the world and the light on the sullen water dies. The whispering shell is mute, and after is evil cheer; she shall stand on the shore and cry in vain… many and many a year. But the stately wide-winged ship lies wrecked… on the unknown deep; far under, dead in his coral bed, the lover lies asleep…

I recently went to try and find this in Howells’ books and was having difficulty finding this in Howells’ works. Is this correctly attributed to Howells, and if so, where might I find it? Where would I find some background information, critical essays, and commentary on it?

Ethan Sudman, ethansudman at comcast.net 3/6/06

There’s a partial answer to this on the Queries 1999 page, but if readers have more information, please send it to the site.
Howells and “moneywise”Hi, I found the following citation in the OED:
“moneywise adv., in terms of money, as far as money is concerned.
1859 W. D. HOWELLS Let. 26 Oct. (1979) I. 47, I can’t help you *moneywise.”

I would like to know which letters are meant here, so that I have the context of the utterance. It’d be great if you could tell me which correspondence this might stem from.
Thank youcornelia at w2d.de Cornelia Loos 2/25/06

The reference would probably be to the following:

Howells, William Dean, George Warren Arms, and Christoph K. Lohmann. Selected Letters, Volume 2, 1873-1881. Selected Edition of W.D. Howells ; V. 9. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1979.

D. Campbell


That citation is correct. The letter is in vol. 2 of the Selected Letters. The word is in a letter to his father (William C. Howells) written in Columbus on Oct. 26, 1859. Here is a bit of the context: “I got Sam’s and Vic’s letter this morning. I am sorry that I can’t help you monywise. There is nearly $100 coming to me, of which I can’t get a cent. O dear! — Foster will get out my poems in about a month. I don’t suppose I shall make anything out of them. — I am heartsick with waiting and disappointment.”

Gary Culbert

Death date of Mildred Howells

Dear Friends,

Can anyone provide me with the year of death of Mildred Howells (born 1872), daughter of W. D. Howells?

Yours sincerely

Mark DeVoto
Professor of Music, emeritus, Tufts University mdevoto at granite.tufts.edu

Mildred Howells died on April 18, 1966 at age 93.

Gary Culbert

Howells’s dining life in New YorkExpanding on a past query, I would very much like to know if Howells, outside the novels, ever left evidence of his dining life in New York. He was obviously a keen eater, and A Hazard of New Fortunes is sprinkled with references to, or extended scenes in, little Italian, Spanish and French restaurants. I would love to know what restaurant served as the basis for “Maroni’s” in that novel,and where it was that Howells referred to “Claret’s,” a mythical NY restaurant based on the real-life Sherry’s. I am writing a history of New York restaurants, hence the question.

William Grimes, grimes at nytimes.com 2/11/06

Howells’s Voice: Is there any record of what Howell’s sounded like–timber of voice, regional accent, etc.? I am quoting him in an informal talk and it would be nice to approximate his voice. Thanks steve.botts at transamerica. 2/8/06
A Howells Genealogy?Has there been genealogy done on Howells that I can access? I know his gggrandparents (mother’s side) were:

Richard and Priscilla Deane, 1700’s, Maryland
June Farmer 2-8-06

Rise of Silas Lapham and Lapham RisingHi, I discovered William Dean Howells early last year–read A Modern Instance, The Rise of Silas Lapham, Indian Summer and A Hazard of New Fortunes in rapid succession–and, first, would like to thank you for this marvelous, informative site for an author who is now one of my favorites.

Second, I was just perusing the net and discovered a review for a novel (to be issued in February) by Roger Rosenblatt called “Lapham Rising”–the title an obvious reference to The Rise of Silas Lapham–and the main character’s name is Harry March–another nod to Howells, with his March family in A Hazard of New Fortunes. Here’s a link to the review:


Looks like a genial satire (the plot indeed sounds like a revisionist update of The Rise of Silas Lapham), and thought I would share it with you; anything to bring the great Howells to the attention of modern readers is a good thing, no?

Best regards,

Joseph Jones pepe58season at yahoo.com 2/2/06

(No reply is necessary.)
Paintings by Elinor G. MeadI Have an oil painting signed by Elinor G. Mead with Feb 1855 Providence also written on it. Is there any info on William Howells wife being an artist?

Alvah M. Reida aptshirts at net1plus.com 1/23/06

Yes, indeed, Elinor Mead Howells did some painting. Lynn refers to her as “artistically talented.” You can see her work yourself by looking at WDH’s No Love Lost (1869) for which she did the illustrations.

–Gary Culbert, 1/27/06

Paintings by Mildred Howells

I have been asked by my father to write to this group. He has some paintings by Mildred Howells (2 I believe) and is wondering if there is any interest in them from members of this society. I will await any response and then contact him. Thank you for your time.
Melissa Carrara dcarrara at localnet.com 1-5-06



1 thought on “2006

  1. andrew dangelas

    I have a WDH book Th Albany Depot, with an inscription that reads “to E.D.H. with kind regards, 11-7-91.” I believe this is in Howell’s hand. Who might E.D.H. be?


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