William Dean Howells
Born in Martins Ferry, Ohio, March 1, 1837
Died in New York, New York, on May 11, 1920
Known as the “dean of American letters,” Howells is largely responsible for the dominance of the realistic school of writing in modern American literature.
William Dean Howells was a self-taught author who started writing for newspapers. His first published works were poems: "Old Winter, Loose Thy Hold On Us"; "Poems of Two Friends". His works appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Saturday Press and The Cincinnati Dial.
Much of Howells' education was acquired through traveling, including a tour of New England and Canadian factories which eventually developed into a literary pilgrimage of New England. When the Civil War broke out, Howells served as the United States Consul in Venice, Italy. After the Civil War, when he returned to America to pursue a career as a full-time author, his experiences in Italy became background material for several books, as well as essays on Italy and Italian poets. In the decade from 1881 to 1891, Howells wrote what many critics consider his best works, including The Rise of Silas Lapham, which focused on working conditions and the class system during the end of the 19th century. His other novels include:
A Modern Instance - Indian Summer - Annie Kilburn - A Hazard of New Fortunes
Spend 5 minutes watching the video. Learn more about Howells, his genre (realistic fiction) and the world he wrote about.
Librarian Talk About Books!
InformationPN 41 .D5 - V. 12 - Dictionary of Literary Biography (DLB), Information on American Realists and Naturalists.
PN771 .G27 - V. 7, 17 and 41 - Twentieth Century Literary Criticism (TCLC)- includes biographical information as well as excerpts from critical essays discussing Howells’ work. Use the title index for TCLC to find specific pages on The Rise of Silas Lapham in this source.
Historical Background -
Between the ending of the Civil War in 1865 and the beginning of the Twentieth Century, the United States underwent major changes. Immigration caused an elemental change in what had been predominantly a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant population. Business became the primary concern of the nation, and the industrial leaders were the real power in the country. A series of ineffectual presidents made the federal government a minor influence in the citizens' lives. Literary romantics gave way to the realists who felt that everyday life should be depicted with its social injustices, its morality or lack of it, its class distinctions, and its “culture of consumption."
Every writer is influenced by the time in which he lives. Listed below are some books in the Lone Star College-Kingwood Library which give background information on Howells and the period in which he wrote The Rise of Silas Lapham.
Topics to consider:
PS214 .P5 - Realism and Naturalism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature
PS374 .N29 - The Cambridge Companion to American Realism and Naturalism
HF5387 .E75 - Essentials of Business Ethics
PS173 .B87 W3 - The Businessman in American Literature
PS228 .C34 C35 - The Calvinist Roots of the Modern Era
Howells’ place in American literature:
PS214 .H5 The Great Tradition: An Interpretation of American Literature Since the Civil War
Points to consider
Librarian Talk About Finding Journal and Newspaper Articles!
Electronic databases are purchased by the libraries for your research use. Use them to find articles in newspapers and journals, letters, reference books, illustrations, photographs and more. Home access to article databases is available with your library card barcode. If you need assistance finding an article, contact the Reference Librarians. They will need full bibliographic information and your contact information.
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Use databases to find critical analysis of The Rise of Silas Lapham in scholarly literary journals. Your library bar code number is the login. Ask a Reference librarian if you need assistance.
Bloom's Literary Database Online | This database is a collection of many analytical essays discussing literature. These essays, originally published in print form, are accessible now for research online. Find information about the novel you are discussing in your literature course, or read about the fascinating lives of world-famous writers-from Aeschylus to Anita Desai, from Ernest Hemingway to Émile Zola. Included are discussions of great works of literature-from influential novels, poems, and plays to important works of nonfiction.
Librarian Talk About The Internet!
The internet can be a wonderful source of original documents. Browse the sites we have suggested below. Remember, to find reputable sites, evaluate for:
Use the Internet with caution. Look for sites of a scholarly or academic level for research in literature. The following Internet sites have been reviewed and are appropriate for research on Howells and The Rise of Silas Lapham.
|Librarian Talk about getting help!
Support for a successful paper is more than finding the right resources. Putting it all together takes time and effort. Sometimes it takes additional help from the librarians or tutors. Please consider the following resources if you need additional help. Remember, the expert on the assignment is your professor.
Citing Sources Using the Lone Star College- Kingwood Library MLA Style Guide | Examples of both paper and electronic citations.
Avoiding Plagiarism | Excellent information and guide on how to avoid plagiarism from the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University.
University of Texas Copyright Crash Course | This helpful guide on copyright is suggested by Lone Star College-Kingwood Teaching and Learning Center.
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Page by Bettye Sutton and Becky Bradley, 2001. Updated 9/2012, B. Bradley