A Sherwood Bonner Sampler, 1869–1884What a Bright, Educated, Witty, Lively, Snappy Young Woman Can Say on a Variety of Topics
McDowell, Katharine Sherwood Bonner
Cloth Edition, $42.00s
Cloth ISBN: 1-57233-067-8
Status: In Print
Publication Date: 6/15/2000
DescriptionThe Mississippi-born author Katharine Sherwood Bonner McDowell (1849–1883) has long been recognized as one of the pioneers in dialect fiction, but she and her work faded from memory as literary tastes shifted away from this popular nineteenth-century genre. Although her career was cut short by her early death, Bonner left a significant body of published work, most of it buried in periodical archives. This book, which adds significantly to the current resurgence of interest in Bonner, brings back into print much of the author’s best writing and will acquaint modern readers with her astute and witty observations about America’s centennial era.
A Sherwood Bonner Sampler includes regional and European travel columns, historical/autobiographical sketches set in Mississippi, profiles of national celebrities, children’s stories, an extended satiric poem about prominent Bostonians, touching personal lyrics, and a variety of short fiction ranging from romantic melodrama to regional realism. Her reports from Reconstruction era Boston reveal a fascinating perspective on postwar sectional differences, while later stories introduce settings along the Louisiana Gulf Coast, in the Tennessee mountains, and in the southern Illinois farm country. In addition, an appendix reproduces the response poem from the Radical Club celebrities, the targets of her infamous satire.
Anne Gowdy’s introductory essay places the pieces within historical, biographical, literary, and cultural context. Although much of Bonner’s writing retains the power to inform and entertain in and of itself, Gowdy’s annotations identify events and personages who might be unfamiliar to modern readers, show connections with other writings by Bonner and some of her contemporaries, and identify quotations and allusions. The result is a volume that makes a signal contribution to the ongoing rediscovery and reappraisal of American authors—in particular, one talented writer whom literary history, until now, has too lightly estimated and too narrowly classified.
The Editor: Anne Razey Gowdy is assistant professor of English at Tennessee Wesleyan College. She has published articles on Sherwood Bonner and other nineteenth-century writers.
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