This weekend I was in DC. On Saturday morning, I thought I’d take a stroll over to Georgetown to visit the site of Southworth’s house on Prospect St. and to see her gravestone in Oak Hill Cemetery, since I hadn’t paid a visit in about a decade.  The cemetery, in the northeast corner of Georgetown, is home to many important figures from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, “Home Sweet Home” songwriter John Howard Payne, a number of Civil War generals and Confederate spies, and Washington Post editor Katharine Graham.  Jefferson Davis’s grave was even there until 1893.

Southworth's grave marker in Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown, DC.  June 2015.

Southworth’s grave marker in Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown, DC. June 2015.

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Recently I came across Southworth’s name on the program of a session of the World’s Congress of Representative Women, a six-day event held at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago (running from May 15 to 21).  Southworth was listed as a participant on the sessions of the American Protective Society of Authors (Thursday, May 18), and the title of her paper is given as “Between Two Fires–Publisher and Plagiarist.”  The other speakers included such notable names as Clara Barton, Grace Greenwood, and Mrs. Henry Ward Beecher.  I was very excited to imagine Southworth, at age 73, attending the World’s Fair and taking part on this panel on the issue of authors’ rights.  However, accounts of the session make clear that she was not actually present in Chicago to give her remarks, which were read to the audience by Mrs. Leila Roby of Chicago.  According to the Latter Day Saints Evening Star (Vol. 55, p. 504), Southworth and Grace Greenwood were “both too ill to come.”

The account given by the Daily Inter Ocean [a Chicago newspaper] on May 19, 1893 seems to record Southworth’s remarks in full, with the interesting note that they were presented as potentially Southworth’s last written work: Read the rest of this entry »

I thought I’d present items from my personal collection of Southworthiana from time to time as a feature on the blog. I’ve been collecting Southworth material since the mid-1990s, starting with various editions of her novels (mostly discovered in antique shops and from internet sites like Abebooks), which I now have boxes and boxes of in my house. While editions of her books still catch my eye (just the other day I found a copy of Old Neighborhoods and New Settlements, her 1853 short story collection published by Hart, on ebay), I’ve mostly been searching for other types of items–autographs, letters, and other ephemera–in recent years, and I’ve been lucky to acquire some interesting things.

One interesting acquisition was this booksellers’ signage for the Street and Smith paperback editions of Southworth’s novels from the 1910’s.

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Considering the popularity of Southworth’s works on the stage from the late 1850s to the early decades of the twentieth century, it seems likely that some of her works would have also been used as the basis of films in the earliest decades of film-making.  So far, my searches have only turned up one such film, the 1921 Fox Film Corp. film, Hearts of Youth, which is an adaptation of Southworth’s Ishmael novels.

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I’ve long been intrigued by Southworth’s inclusion in “The Authors of the United States,” a popular 1866 print by Thomas Hicks (engraved by A. H. Ritchie).

"Authors of the United States"

This image portrays 44 prominent mid-century U.S. authors gathered in a classical setting. While the depicted gathering never occurred (many of these authors, like Poe and Cooper, were long dead), it is nice to see that Hicks imagined Southworth invited to the party. Click here for a larger image and a key to the authors depicted. Read the rest of this entry »

While Southworth’s relationship to popular nineteenth-century theater has not been explored in any depth by American literary historians (dissertation topic, anyone), many of her works were adapted to the stage beginning in the late 1850s and throughout the rest of the nineteenth century. Among the earliest to adapt her work was Harry Watkins, who staged Bride of an Evening (the New York Ledger serial that would be published in book form as Gipsy’s Prophecy) at Barnum’s Museum in New York City in 1858.

Watkins recorded his experience of adapting and staging Bride in his journal, selections of which were published in Maud and Otis Skinner’s One Man in his Time: The Adventures of H. Watkins, Strolling Player, 1845-1863 (Philadelphia, U of Pennsylvania P, 1938). Among this experience was a meeting with Southworth, who traveled to New York to attend a benefit performance of the play. The Skinners include two passages where Watkins discusses his contact with Southworth: Read the rest of this entry »

Recently I came across an 1864 advertisement for Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters, a very popular medicinal tonic or “cure-all,” sold in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. In this particular ad (not the one pictured above) from the National Republican (publicly accessible via the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America database), a paper published in the District of Columbia, the company includes celebrity endorsements of the product. One of these letters is written by E. D. E. N. Southworth. I quote below the letter in full: Read the rest of this entry »