Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist

Constance Fenimore Woolson Portrait of a Lady Novelist Constance Feni Woolson who contributed to Henry James s conception of his heroine Isabelle Archer in The Portrait of a Lady was one of the most accomplished American writers of the ninete

  • Title: Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist
  • Author: Anne Boyd Rioux
  • ISBN: 9780393245097
  • Page: 357
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Constance Feni Woolson 1840 1894 , who contributed to Henry James s conception of his heroine Isabelle Archer in The Portrait of a Lady, was one of the most accomplished American writers of the nineteenth century Yet today the best known and most misunderstood facts of her life are her relationship with James and her probable suicide in Venice This first full lengConstance Feni Woolson 1840 1894 , who contributed to Henry James s conception of his heroine Isabelle Archer in The Portrait of a Lady, was one of the most accomplished American writers of the nineteenth century Yet today the best known and most misunderstood facts of her life are her relationship with James and her probable suicide in Venice This first full length biography of Woolson provides a fuller picture that reaffirms her literary stature.Uncovering new sources, Anne Boyd Rioux evokes Woolson s dramatic life She was a grand niece of James Feni Cooper and was born in New Hampshire, but her family s ill fortunes drove them west to Cleveland Raised to be a conventional woman, Woolson was nonetheless thrust by her father s death into the role of breadwinner, and yet, as a writer, she reached for critical as much as monetary reward.Known for her powerfully realistic and empathetic portraits of post Civil War American life, Woolson created compelling and subtle portrayals of the rural Midwest, Reconstruction era South, and the formerly Spanish Florida, to which she traveled with her invalid mother After her mother s death, Woolson, with help from her sister, moved to Europe where expenses were lower, living mostly in England and Italy and spending several months in Egypt While abroad, she wrote finely crafted foreign set stories that presage Edith Wharton s work of the next generation.In this rich biography, Rioux reveals an exceptionally gifted and committed artist who pursued and received serious recognition despite the difficulties faced by female authors of her day Throughout, Rioux goes deep into Woolson s character, her fight against depression, her sources for writing, and her intimate friendships, including with Henry James, painting an engrossing portrait of a woman and writer who deserves to be widely known today.

    One thought on “Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist”

    1. Count me as one of those who'd never heard of Constance Fenimore Woolson until I read Colm Tóibín's The Master several years ago. I was mildly fascinated by her then and, wanting to know more, got on Google and : if I found anything of interest there, I don't remember what it might've been, as it certainly didn't lead me to look up any of her works afterward.Fast-forward to late 2015. I met Anne Boyd Rioux, the author of this biography, and, because of her passion for her subject, I became fas [...]

    2. A well-constructed biography is a dance between feet-on-ground facts and limbs-in-air storytelling. Flesh and soul must be conveyed in the chronology of events, and a case must be created that this one life holds relevance to all readers. A biography is an act of scholarship and illumination. And so it is with Anne Boyd Rioux's luminous biography of nearly-forgotten 19th century writer Constance Fenimore Woolson. If it weren't for Woolson's connection to Henry James, a relationship which eventua [...]

    3. Constance Fenimore Woolson (1840–1894) is most often remembered for her connection to male writers; her great-uncle was pioneering American novelist James Fenimore Cooper, and in her later years as an expatriate in Europe she associated with Henry James, fueling rumors of a romance between them. Deserving to be known in her own right, Woolson represents key junctures between realism and regionalism, and between American and European styles. Together with Rioux’s new selection of Woolson’s [...]

    4. A successful novelist and short story writer in her lifetime, she died in fear of the poverty that awaited her golden years. Jilted by her Civil War soldier hero she found consolation in the intellectual intimacy shared with novelist Henry James. She longed for a home and spent her life as an expat wandering Europe and visiting exotic locales. She is the one of most successful and acclaimed female American novelists that you have never heard of: Constance Fenimore Woolson.I was 'granted my wish' [...]

    5. A wonderful biography of a little known, but once widely acclaimed, author. I read the book in tandem with Woolson's selected work, Miss Grief and Other Stories, edited by Anne Boyd Rioux, and loved dipping into stories as they were mentioned in the biography. I also learned a great deal about Henry James and the roving expatriate community of artists 19th century Europe.

    6. I picked this up because I had never heard of Constance Fenimore Woolson - even though I grew up in Michigan and her biggest selling novel is partially set on Mackinac Island. I asked (well-read) friends and they had never heard of her either, even though she wrote for Harper's and the Atlantic, sold thousands of copies of books, and was a good friend of Henry James as well as friends with many other contemporaries in the literary world. Woolson was not a favorite of William Dean Howells, the ed [...]

    7. Constance Fenimore Woolson is finally getting her due in Anne Boyd Rioux's biography of an all-but-forgotten best-selling 19th century American author. I so enjoyed learning about this independent woman who was deeply dedicated to her writing in spite of the challenge of being devalued in comparison to male novelists of the time. She lived a nomadic life, finding temporary residence all over Europe, and traveled beyond. Her travels informed her characters and the settings in her writing, as did [...]

    8. The biography of Constance Fenimore Woolson portrays an author who, in spite of her critical and commercial success in her time, has largely been neglected and misrepresented. On the one hand, the the book sheds light on how and why Woolson fell out of favor and the canon. On the other hand, it's also the story of Woolson's personal life. Rioux brilliantly paints a complex portrait of her; she devotes time to her depression and the many sad aspects of her life but also shows that Woolson had the [...]

    9. A great historical read about a woman who despite many hardships endures in order to pursue a writing career. The publishing business in her days was not exactly friendly with women authors, but Constance Fenimore Woolsey did not let that stop her. I enjoyed this book.

    10. John Matteson once stated during a reading from his recently published Little Women Annotated that writing biography is an intensely personal experience. Referring to his Pulitzer-prize-winning Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father, the duo biography of Louisa May Alcott and her father, he noticed amazing parallels between his life and that of Bronson, both teachers and "quixotic" fathers intimately involved in the raising of strong, "verbal" daughters; for one thing, th [...]

    11. Constance Fenimore Woolson was an American nineteenth century novelist, who seems to have slipped into obscurity. Today it seems she is best known for having had a very close friendship with Henry James and for having taken her own life. The author of this biography, Anne Boyd Rioux is doing a superb job in reigniting interest in her. This biography is a brilliantly researched work, compulsively readable and detailed. However it is the narrative of Constance Fenimore Woolson’s life, her family [...]

    12. Constance Fenimore Woolson is one of those names that perpetually bobs around the periphery of Victorian studies, one of what Nathaniel Hawthorne infamously called "that damned mob of scribbling women" — 19th-century female novelists whose books outsold their male counterparts' by powers of 10, often attracting the lion's share of critical attention as well. The male critics who shaped the American literary canon in the first half of the 20th century obliged Hawthorne's memory by ignoring thes [...]

    13. WoolsonAn interesting book about the life of Constance Woolson, her amazing travels, the writing she did and people in her life. Before reading this I did not know of her. The fact that she too was effected by the family's deaf Ness at a certain age didn't stop her writing, traveling and learning.

    14. Insightful non-fiction about the struggle of early 19th century women in the male-driven world of writing and publishing. A fantastic read.Melisa

    15. Well written, scholarly biography with dismally bad index. The author's acknowledgments are also well worth reading; the detail she gives about who helped her and how she managed to get so much material makes me glad to support higher education and scholarship. Sadly, the index, although with big print, was poorly constructed. There was no reference to any of her works at all, and somewhat oddly chosen subjects (For one example,"lebianism" in three or four places but apparently just randomly men [...]

    16. The book includes many photographs and is heavily documented with reference notes. I won an advanced uncorrected copy of this book during a giveaway. I am under no obligation to leave a review or rating and do so voluntarily. So that others may also enjoy this book, I am donating it to a senior assisted living facility.

    17. If you know nothing of Constance Fenimore Woolson, Portrait of a Lady Artist will make you realize what you’ve missed. If you know only a little, Anne Boyd Rioux’s engaging account will drive you to read more. Once again, Rioux has elegantly and intelligently written of a nineteenth-century female genius who deserves twenty-first century attention. Woolson’s story, as Rioux tells it, brings to life the struggles and successes of a brilliant American woman who finds her calling as a well-pu [...]

    18. Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist by Anne Boyd Rioux was my wish granted by the author through Net Galley. I had never heard of this author and was curious about her because the years she was alive, 1840-1894 were not necessarily easy years for women who had unconventional ambitions or careers. That said, she had a very successful writing career with books and short stories that eclipsed many famous male novelists of her time. She was plagued with doubts and depression thro [...]

    19. Since I love the works of Henry James, I recently read the "novelized" bio called THE MASTER by Colm Toibin regarding James' life. (A fabulous book, by the way. Riveting). Within this book was mentioned the friendship between James and Constance Fenimore Woolson, a female novelist of the same time period (think pre-Edith Wharton). Since I wasn't familiar with her, I decided to purchase the bio and was not at all disappointed. Frankly, I couldn't put the book down. Today, the best-known (and most [...]

    20. This is a perfectly readable and lively biography of a under-known female novelist from the late 19th century. She's mainly known now as a friend of Henry James' and for her suicide over her supposed unrequited love for him. Anne Boyd Rioux opens her biography by recounting these theories and then asks what truths emerge when we recenter on Woolson. That is, to let her be the center of her own life. What a novel (see what I did there?) concept. I'm giving it four stars because, while I really en [...]

    21. Gracefully written book about someone I only knew of as a footnote to the life of Henry James. There was a lot more to this woman than a footnote! Her death by suicide led to a misunderstanding of her life - she was not downhearted because she was not successful, she had more success with some of her books than James did - she was not downhearted because she was in love with James and he did not reciprocate, they had a friendship that was on terms satisfactory to both of them. She had a history [...]

    22. The writing was good, the biography rather tragic. I think it would also be of interest to genealogists researching this family line as it gives insights into other family members.This was a giveaway.

    23. This is not a love story. This is the story of a woman writer of the nineteenth century who struggled mentally, physically, and financially. This wonderful biography should reinstate Woolson's popularity as a writer.

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