Relative of Howells: Mohawk Canadian Writer

Just wondering if you could tell me what Mohawk Canadian Writer is a distant cousin of William Dean Howells? Callie Howells is this writers grandmother, but I don’t know the writer’s name.
Thank you,
Sherry V.


Dear All:
I have three questions about Henry James and William Dean Howells. Where does HJ write that Howells has no conception of evil? And secondly, where does HJ confess to a friend (in a letter, I’m assuming) that Howells has suffered from depression and that his novels come from a dark place within his psyche? Or something roughly to that effect?My last question is a subjective one: Is there a Howellsian character that comes to mind who is evil?Thanks for any help on these questions. Please email me directly.
Carrie Bramen
Dear Carrie,James’s comment regarding Howells’s “small… perception of evil” appears in the 1886 essay entitled “William Dean Howells,” available in the Library of America 2-vol set of James’s Literary Criticism. James’s comment about Howells’s depression comes in a 1903 letter to Grace Norton (Vol 4 of the Belknap Henry James Letters). Finally, the question of an “evil” Howells character is indeed a tricky one. It probably depends on how you define evil, of if you expect an evil character to remain evil or if you allow for the possibility of growth and redemption; but as I note in my book The Master and the Dean, here are a few candidates: Bartley Hubbard’s not-so-innocent dereliction of his marriage in A Modern Instance; the greedy figure of Rogers in Silas Lapham; and the pseudo-Oedipal sexual strategizing found in Indian Summer.Best, Rob Davidson
Which Howells Story is This?1. Can anyone tell me where Howells speaks of a man and a woman (a husband and wife) growing too much alike (or of one turning into the other)? I can’t place it!

2. With many thanks: lynnwardley@sbcglobal.net Please post answer on site or email me. Thanks for this e-resource!


Correct spelling of Martins FerryI wanted to pass along two small bits of information: the Biography and Chronology sections of your site treat Martins Ferry with an apostrophe. I do believe it was treated briefly with an apostrophe, after Howells’ family’s departure from Martinsville, but has since been dropped. Also, in case you were unaware, Howells, along with poet James Wright, were recent inductees into Martins Ferry’s Hall of Honor. Small, but bits nonetheless.

Martins Ferry’s local paper write-up:

Martins Ferry Public Library announcement:

Very respectfully,

Greg Neubauer

Thank you for supplying this correction and for letting me know about this honor. I’ll correct the pages at our site.–D. Campbell
Howells and “Pearl Rivers”Please help with any information about Howells and the poet “Pearl Rivers” – her name was Eliza Jane Nicholson and she was born in Mississippi in 1843. Most of her adult life was spent in New Orleans.
I believe she may have written for The Atlantic Monthly.
Thank you,
Nancy Stockton
nstockto@tulane.edu 5/27/08
The Elevator: publication date?I am attempting to find out: when “The Elevator: Farce” was first published; and,
who that publisher was.

Thank you for any assistance,



The Elevator was published on January 30, 1885, by James R. Osgood & co.  It appeared in Harper’s Monthly in December, 1884.

–Gary Culbert

New Howells Letter about Mark Twain

I just received another Howells letter, this one undated, but it’s particularly interesting because it mentions Mark Twain. It’s the first Howells letter that I’ve personally seen that mentions Twain. Most or all of their correspondence to each other is in institutions, I believe. This letter is to the publisher James R. Osgood and it reads:

“Dear Osgood:
I have sprained my ancle [sic], and shall be kept indoors for a few days. I [am] inexpressibly sorry about the lunch, which I want you to please give at my expense. Aldrich will be with you at one o’clock.
I want Clemens to come around[ ?], as soon as he can, after lunch, and take dinner here. Please tell him this, and say how sorry I am not to lunch with him.
Yours ever
W. D. Howells.
Friday –
I’d like to know when this was written and if it’s been published before. It’s probably the 1870s or ’80s, probably from Boston. Does anyone know when Howells sprained his ankle?
The great thing about this letter is that Howells often reminiscenced about those lunches with Aldrich and Twain when they were young, especially the ones that Osgood was always putting together, and they’re all mentioned here.

. . . .

Mark Godburn
The Bookmark
Early edition of The Rise of Silas LaphamI have come upon a copy of The Rise of Silas Lapham, by William D. Howells. The copyright is 1884. Boston and New York Houghton , Mifflin and Company The Riverside Press, Cambridge are on the title page. It is in very good condition. Its a hard cover book. Do you know anything about this book. Thanks Dale Lynn


The Rise of Silas Lapham was published in August, 1884, by Ticknor and Company.  Any book with the Houghton Mifflin imprint is a later reprinting and has no great monetary value.

–Gary Culbert

Howells letterTo be posted please:

I just acquired a very pretty Howells letter, and I am wondering if anyone knows whether it has been published. The letter is on one side of one leaf, plain white paper. It concerns the book A Little Girl Among the Old Masters, which was comprised of sketches by Howells’s youngest daughter Mildred (who was about ten or twelve years old at this time I think) and commentary by her father. The letter reads:

“Boston, Feb. 8, 1884.

Dear Madam:

Thank you very sincerely for your kind letter of the 3d. It has given the little girl’s mother and me great pleasure, and the little girl herself turned long enough from her paper dolls to hear that some one liked her book. She wishes me to send you her love.

Yours truly
W. D. Howells.

Miss Rimann.”

Does anyone know who Miss Rimann is? The comment about Mildred being occupied with her paper dolls reminds me of a letter that Howells wrote in the 1860s when he lived in Cambridge where he mentions how his eldest daughter Winnie, then a little girl, was busily employed with the little boy next door in the mud pastry line.

Mildred’s book was published in Boston by James R. Osgood & Co., 1884. I know of one copy that was inscribed by one of Mildred’s uncles for Xmas 1883, so evidently the book was out in time for the 1883 Christmas trade, or perhaps her uncle had an advance copy. In any event, this February 1884 exchange between Miss Rimann and WDH was both an early and a charming response to the book.

I am still looking for Howells books in dust jackets. I have a new email, below:

Mark Godburn
The Bookmark
North Canaan, CT
email: bookmarkstore@att.net <mailto:bookmarkstore@att.net>

According to Gibson/Arms A Little Girl Among the Old Masters was published on November 15, 1883.

Gary Culbert

Howells’s Review of Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure ClassDear Madam, dear Sir, I learned that Thorsten Veblens classic became a bestseller after Howells published a rave review of this book. Would you be so kind to let me know where this review appeared, I would love to read it. Thank you for your kind assistance and cooperation in this matter.

Best regards and a Happy New Year 2008

Peter Degen


There is a copy of Howells’s long and laudatory review at http://de.geocities.com/veblenite/txt/rv_tlcho.txt
Book Reviews: A Traveler from Altruria 
I am looking for book reviews on “A Traveler from Altruria” for my Gilded Age class. Can you point me in the right direction? I have been searching on the internets and have not found anything useful.
Grace and Peace,
A good source for book reviews is Book Review Digest, although it wouldn’t work for A Traveler from Altruria since it covers entries only from 1905 on. It’s available in bound form in most libraries and also on the subscription database WilsonWeb under the title “Book Review Digest Retrospective.”The New York Times archive (search at nytimes.com; select “1851-1980” from the pulldown menu) doesn’t appear to have a review of the book.

Also check the big magazines of the day: The Atlantic, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Scribner’s, and the rest.


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