am working on a biography of Charles Frederick Briggs (1804-1877), New
York novelist and editor, born on Nantucket to a seafaring family, but
after a stint as a sailor, relocating to the burgeoning metropolis of New
York, where he transformed himself into a literary man! Known as Harry
Franco, the name of the hero of his first novel, he filled the Knickerbocker
Magazine with sharp and witty descriptions of New York and its people.
Involved in an editorial venture with Edgar Allan Poe, he later used the
hard-won knowledge from this debacle to write a satiric portrait of the
New York literary world. Sensitive to the experience of urban poverty,
he wrote of the economic turmoil of his time. As the editor of Putnam's
Monthly, he brought Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener" and other
stories of the 1850s into print. Novelist, satirist, editor, letter writer,
Briggs led a rich post-revolutionary life and deserves to be better known.
Volume 18 of The American Writers Series (Gale Cengage Learning) includes
my 10,000 word start on this project.
have written a long essay on Mari Sandoz(1896-1966), Nebraska novelist
and historian, forthcoming in Volume 24 of the American Writers Series.
Sandoz wrote the history of the American plains and five novels about the
west in the 19th and 20th centuries. She won the Atlantic Monthly Non-Fiction
prize in 1935 for her biography of her father, Old Jules, who came
to this country from Switzerland after the Civil War and worked to locate
European immigrants in the new communities of northwestern Nebraska. Jules
knew the old Sioux warriors who were imprisoned on reservations near
his homestead , and passed on to his daughter his understanding and sympathy
for dispossessed Native American peoples.
have a strong research interest in Native American history and culture,
and have published articles on contemporary writers of Native heritage.
I designed the syllabus for a course in this material in 1970 and have
taught it in updated versions for almost forty years.