Coming in February 2016 from W. W. Norton:
This first full-length biography of Constance Fenimore Woolson reaffirms her literary stature and evokes her dramatic life.
Constance Fenimore Woolson (1840-94), who contributed to Henry James’s conception of his heroine Isabelle Archer of The Portrait of a Lady, was one of the most accomplished American writers of the nineteenth century. The best known (and most misunderstood) facts of her life are her relationship with James and her suicide in Venice. Uncovering new sources, Anne Boyd Rioux provides a fuller picture of Woolson’s life, her fight against depression, her sources for her writing, and her capacity for love and joy. In her critically acclaimed fiction, Woolson created compelling and subtle portrayals of Americans from the Great Lakes, Reconstruction-era South, and formerly Spanish Florida. While an expat in Europe, she explored women’s thwarted ambitions while challenging the foremost male writers of her era. Ultimately, Rioux reveals an exceptionally gifted and committed artist who pursued (and received) serious recognition despite the stigma attached to female authors and ambitious, single women.
A new collection of some of Woolson’s best stories. Forward by Colm Toibin.
Stories include “Miss Grief,” the powerful story of a starving woman writer trying to gain the acceptance of the male-dominated literary elite, and “In Sloane Street,” a powerful response to Henry James’s “The Lesson of the Master” never before reprinted. Five other stories–set in the Great Lakes, the U.S. South, and Europe–convey her concern for environmental degradation, her interest in those who are overlooked and misjudged, as well as her careful craft and tremendous variety as a writer.
Anne Boyd Rioux is a professor of English and the author and editor of four books. Read more.
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Photo by Jennifer Zdon.