ABOUT THIS BOOK
2018 Choice Outstanding Academic Title
Rebecca Harding Davis is best known for her gritty short story “Life in the Iron-Mills,” set in her native Wheeling, West Virginia. Far less is known of her later career among elite social circles in Philadelphia, New York, and Europe, or her relationships with American presidents and leading international figures in the worlds of literature and the stage. In the first book-length biography of Davis, Sharon M. Harris traces the extraordinary life of this pioneering realist and recovers her status as one of America’s notable women journalists. Harris also examines Rebecca’s role as the leading member of the Davis family, a unique and nationally recognized family of writers that shaped the changing culture of later nineteenth-century literature and journalism.
This accessible treatment of Davis’s life, based on deep research in archival sources, provides new perspective on topics ranging from sectional tensions in the border South to the gendered world of nineteenth-century publishing. It promises to be the authoritative treatment of an important figure in the literary history of West Virginia and the wider world.