Monday, May 30, 2011

W. D. Howells site available again

The Howells Society site is now available at its usual spot:

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

CFP: Howells sessions at ALA 2008

W.D. Howells Society

2008 ALA Panel Topics / Calls for papers

1. The International Howells

The William Dean Howells Society invites paper proposals addressing “The International Howells” for the 2008 ALA Convention in San Francisco (22-25 May, 2008). Paper topics are invited on any aspect of Howells’s work that touches on the international: fiction; criticism and reviews; travel writing, etc.

2. The Domestic Howells

The William Dean Howells Society invites paper proposals addressing “The Domestic Howells” for the 2008 ALA Convention in San Francisco (22-25 May, 2008). Paper topics are invited on any aspect of Howells’s work touching on the “domestic”: fiction set in the U.S.; fiction examining domestic life; criticism and reviews; autobiography; reportage and non-fiction, etc.

For either panel, please send a 500-word abstract and a brief c.v. (separate MS Word attachments) by 7 January, 2008 to Rob Davidson: Or post to:

Dr. Rob Davidson

Dept. of English

Taylor Hall

California State University, Chico

Chico, CA 95929-0830


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Howells Queries April-May 2007

Dinner on March 26, 1892

I am in possession of an original menu from what appears to be a dinner held on March 26 1892. there were a number of authors present (edwin booth, g.p.
lathrop, arlo bates, brander matthews, etc), but the Howells was the most notable. I am trying to identify what club, organization, or event hosted this dinner. If anyone can help shed some light on this i would be very grateful.
Sarah Blue
replies to: osarahblue at 5/10/07

"The Unexpected Guest"

I have a small collection of books by William Dean Howells, including The Unexpected Guests, Harper & Brothers, 1893, Illustrated. My interest in Howells stems from his longtime friendship with Kate Douglas Wiggin. This story is hilarious and could have been inspired by one of Kate's dinner parties where Mr. Howells was a guest.

Could you tell me when and where this story first appeared in print?

Thank you for your response.

Glenys Tarlow 5/10/07

Howells's Signature

Hi there, I'm just trying to find some samples of Howells' signature. I have a book by him with two long inscriptions that might be signed twice by Howells??
Thanks for any help.
Bruce 5/10/07

Dr. Breen's Practice: Setting?

One of my readers recently contacted me about a home in Manomet, Massachusetts that she says is the setting of Howells' novel "Dr. Breen's Practice." I am trying to find out if this is true. Do you know if Howells ever summered in Manomet? The quiet beachside village is located about 40 miles from Boston.
If I can find proof, I'd like to write an article about the home, the book, and the author.
Please contact me if you have any information regarding this query.
Thank you,

Casey Meserve 5/10/07 (contact the Howells Society site for contact information)

Howells and Rural Life

I am researching a PhD in post-Civil War rural American fiction, and wondered if there were any suitable novels or short stories by Howells that have a predominantly rural setting or are particularly concerned with rural life?

Mark Storey
aaxms1 at 5/10/07

Howells and Movies

Matthews, Brander. “Are the Movies a Menace to the Drama?” North American Review 205 (Jan./June 1917): 447–54.

In the above cited article (448), Matthews quotes Mr. Howells from an unidentified paper in which he addresses motion pictures :

Howells: "The worst of it is that no one can deny the wonder of this new form of the world-old mime. It is of a truly miraculous power and scope; there seems nothing that it cannot do,--except convince the taste and console the spirit."

Can anyone tell me where I might find the work in which Howells wrote this comment?

W. J. Rable

wrable at 5/10/07

Venetian Novels of WDH

Greetings from the UK

I am currently compiling a Venetian Journal of events there from the founding of the city to the present day, and would very much like some help with WDH. My entry for him says that he was the author of Venetian Life and that "of his thirty-eight novels ??? were set in Venice." Can you tell me how many of his novels do have a Venetian theme? I would be very impressed and even more grateful.

Best wishes

Robert Booth.robertsuzie at 5/10/07

Howells Genealogy

Has anyone done a genealogy of William Dean Howells?

June Farmer
.juneefarmer at aol dot com 4/18/07


Hello folks,

Not being a Howells expert I don't know if this is an old chestnut or not.
A scholar at our campus is trying to determine the origin of the name Zerrilla in The Rise of Silas Lapham). Did Howells make it up from whole cloth, or was there a specific incident or person involved? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Best wishes,

Bruce T. Sajdak
North American Co-Editor
ABELL - Annual Bibliography of English Language & Literature

(contact the WDHS site if you would like contact information) 3/31/07

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Spring 2007 Howellsian

The Spring 2007 issue of The Howellsian will soon be mailed to Howells Society members. It contains the following:

  • Announcement of Tavern Club Dinner and Excursion to Kittery Point
  • Information on ALA Panels
  • Howells Society Prize Essay: “Guilt by Dissociation; or, the Merciless Quality of The Quality of Mercy” by Michael Anesko ( Pennsylvania State University)
  • Book review by Elsa Nettels: Conscience and Purpose: Fiction and Social Consciousness in Howells, Jewett, Chesnutt, and Cather by Paul R. Petrie.
  • Howells Society Elections
The issue is also online at If you are a Howells Society member and don't remember the password, please e-mail me at and I'll send it to you.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Howells Events at the ALA convention

From Sanford Marovitz, Editor of _The Howellsian_:

Howells Society Dinner at the Tavern Club
4 Boylston Place, Boston
Friday, May 25, 2007 at 7 p.m.

Many of you at the ALA conference six years ago may recall the superb dinner
our Society enjoyed at the Tavern Club; the evening was enhanced by splendid
dining and camaraderie in the inspiring atmosphere of Old Boston during the
late 19th century. Now we are planning to do it again! The W. D. Howells
Society will sponsor a dinner during this year's American Literature
Association Conference in Boston at the historic Tavern Club, of which W. D.
Howells was the first president.


Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres before dinner
Beef Tenderloin with vegetable and starch
Coffee or Tea
Wine with dinner

Sufficient non-meat dishes will be available for vegetarians.

The all-inclusive price, with tip, for members and their guests is $70 each;
for non-members the price is $80, but for those who wish to join the Society
and send $10 dues to the treasurer before or with their dinner reservations,
the dinner price for themselves and their guests will be reduced by $10 per

Reservations should be made by May 5 so that a final count can be submitted
to the Tavern Club. If you would like to attend, please mail your check in
U. S. funds (payable to the "W. D. Howells Society") to

Dr. Elsa Nettels
211 Indian Spring Rd.
Williamsburg, VA 23185.

Please indicate how your check should be divided ($80 for nonmember or $70
for a member/$10 for WDHS membership).

Please note that this will be a very special evening in the magnificent
historic Tavern Club, an event to anticipate with joy-and you'll be in great

Howells Society Excursion

As on the day following our Tavern Club dinner in 2001, the Society has
scheduled again a bus excursion to the Howells family home at Kittery Point.
It will begin when we board the bus at our hotel on Saturday morning at 9
and end in mid-afternoon the same day; the bus will leave Kittery Point at 2
and arrive back at the hotel in time for participants to have the late
afternoon in Boston. Box lunches will be provided. Although the Society
has done this before, we may not have a chance to do it again, so if you'd
like to visit the Howells Memorial Home, on a truly gorgeous site, this
spring is the time to do it.

A short program there will include an informal discussion by Susan Goodman
and Carl Dawson on writing their distinguished biography, William Dean
Howells: A Writer's Life (2005), with remarks by Sarah Daugherty and others;
comments and questions from the floor will be welcome. Through the
generosity of the William Dean Howells Memorial Committee, to whom the
Society is grateful indeed, the full cost of the excursion for all
participants will be covered. If you wish to participate in this special
"happening" at the Howells Memorial, please notify Susan Goodman by e-mail:

are limited, it would be advisable to let her know as soon as possible.
Membership in the Society is not required.

Two William Dean Howells Society Sessions at the 2007 ALA Conference

Howells and Marriage I

Chair: Elsa Nettels, College of William and Mary
1. "A Grammar of Marriage: Love in Spite of Syntax in Silas Lapham,"
William Rodney Herring, University of Texas
2. "The Art of Marriage: Taking the Woman Artist as Wife in A Hazard of New
Fortunes," Sherry Li, National Taiwan University
3. "Marriage and the American Medical Woman in Dr. Breen's Practice,"
Frederick Wegener, California State University, Long Beach Howells and
Marriage II

Chair: Susan Goodman, University of Delaware

1. "Movement, Modernity, and the Marriage of Elinor Mead and William Dean
Howells," Elif Armbruster, Suffolk University

2. "Love in Leisure Spaces: Tourism, Courtship, and Marriage in _The Coast
of Bohemia_ and _An Open-Eyed Conspiracy_," Donna Campbell, Washington
State University

3. "If You Liked That, You'll Like This: Howells and Theodor Fontane on
Marriage," Richard Ellington, Independent Scholar

4. "A 'Record of Young Married Love': Marriage in William Dean Howells'
Criticism and Reviews," Rachel Ihara, City University of New York

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

New Queries and Replies

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 8/23/06

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 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, 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 6/28/06

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 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

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

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 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 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 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

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

Gary Culbert

Howells's dining life in New York

Expanding 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 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 Rising

Hi, 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 2/2/06

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Paintings by Mildred Howells

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 1-5-06