Shame the Devil: A Novel

Shame the Devil: A Novel

by Debra Brenegan

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Overview

The remarkable and true story of the nineteenth-century novelist, journalist, and feminist Fanny Fern.

“There may be married people who do not read the morning paper. Smith and I know them not … It is not too much to say the newspapers are one of our strongest points of sympathy; that it is our meat and drink to praise and abuse them together; that we often in our imagination edit a model newspaper, which shall have for its motto, ‘Speak the truth, and shame the devil.’” — Fanny Fern

Shame the Devil tells the remarkable and true story of Fanny Fern (the pen name of Sara Payson Willis), one of the most successful, influential, and popular writers of the nineteenth century. A novelist, journalist, and feminist, Fern (1811–1872) outsold Harriet Beecher Stowe, won the respect of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and served as literary mentor to Walt Whitman. Scrabbling in the depths of poverty before her meteoric rise to fame and fortune, she was widowed, escaped an abusive second marriage, penned one of the country’s first prenuptial agreements, married a man eleven years her junior, and served as a nineteenth-century Oprah to her hundreds of thousands of fans. Her weekly editorials in the pages of the New York Ledger over a period of about twenty years chronicled the myriad controversies of her era and demonstrated her firm belief in the motto, “Speak the truth, and shame the devil.” Through the story of Fern and her contemporaries, including Walt Whitman, Catharine Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Jacobs, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, Shame the Devil brings the intellectual and social ferment of mid-nineteenth-century America to life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781438435879
Publisher: State University of New York Press
Publication date: 07/01/2011
Series: Excelsior Editions
Pages: 353
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Debra Brenegan is Assistant Professor of English and Coordinator of Women’s Studies at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. Her work has been published in CALYX, The Cimarron Review, Southern Women’s Review, Phoebe, and other publications.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

A Note about Sources

1. Sarah Payson Willis, Outskirts of Boston, Saturday, June 29th, 1816

2. Catharine Beecher, Sara Payson Willis, and Harriet Beecher (Stowe), Hartford, Hartford Female Seminary, Sunday, October 3rd, 1830

3. Nathaniel Willis, Boston, Wednesday, April 12th, 1837

4. Julia Willis, Sara Payson Willis, and Charles Eldredge, Boston, Wednesday, April 12th, 1837

5. Sara Payson Willis, Nathaniel Willis, and N. P. Willis, Boston, Wednesday, April 12th, 1837

6. Mary Eldredge, Brighton, Massachusetts, Friday, October 9th, 1846

7. Sara Payson Willis Eldredge, Boston, Friday, December 22nd, 1848

8. Sara Payson Willis Eldredge Farrington, Boston, Thursday, January 17th, 1850

9. Sara Payson Willis Eldredge Farrington and Harriet Jacobs, Boston, Friday, January 10th, 1851

10. Grace Eldredge, Newton, Massachusetts, Wednesday, February 19th, 1851

11. Sara Payson Willis Eldredge Farrington, the Road from Boston to Newton, Saturday, April 26th, 1851

12. Sara Payson Willis Eldredge Farrington, Boston, Friday, June 13th, 1851

13. James Parton, New York, Monday, July 14th, 1851

14. Sara Payson Willis Eldredge Farrington, Boston, Monday, July 14th, 1851

15. Louisa Jacobs, New York, Monday, July 14th, 1851

16. N. P. Willis, New Orleans, Monday, August 16th, 1852

17. Lucy Bumstead (nee Willis), Boston, Monday, August 16th, 1852

18. James Parton, New York City, Monday, August 16th, 1852

19. Sara Payson Willis Eldredge Farrington, Boston, Friday, September 17th, 1852

20. Oliver Dyer, New York, Friday, September 17th, 1852

21. Sara Payson Willis Eldredge Farrington, Boston, Tuesday, February 1st, 1853

22. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Boston, Tuesday, February 1st, 1853

23. Fanny Fern, Boston, Tuesday, February 8th, 1853

24. Grace Eldredge, Newton, Tuesday, February 8th, 1853

25. Oliver Dyer and Fanny Fern, Boston, Thursday, February 10th, 1853

26. Hezekiah Eldredge, Newton, Monday, March 14th, 1853

27. N. P. Willis, Idlewild, New York, Monday, April 18th, 1853

28. James Parton, New York, Monday, June 3rd, 1853

29. Mary Eldredge, Newton, Monday, June 17th, 1853

30. Catharine Beecher, Milwaukee, Monday, June 17th, 1853

31. Fanny Fern, Oliver Dyer, and Richard Willis, Boston, June 17th, 1853

32. Fanny Fern, Boston and Newton, Friday, July 1st, 1853

33. Fanny Fern, New York City, Friday, July 1st, 1853

34. Fanny Fern, New York City, Friday, July 8th, 1853

35. Grace Eldredge, Niagara Falls, Sunday, July 10th, 1953

36. Nathaniel Willis, Boston, Thursday, September 22nd, 1853

37. Ellen (Nelly) Eldredge, New York, Thursday, September 22nd, 1853

38. James Parton, New York, Thursday, September 22nd, 1853

39. Fanny Fern, New York, Tuesday, January 17th, 1854

40. Walt Whitman, Brooklyn, Thursday, February 8th, 1855

41. Fanny Fern and Catharine Beecher, New York, Friday, March 30th, 1855

42. Fanny Fern, Hoboken, New Jersey, Saturday, January 5th, 1856

43. Fanny Fern and Walt Whitman, New York, Friday, March 14th, 1856

44. Grace Eldredge, New York, Sunday, June 8th, 1856

45. James Parton, Brooklyn, Saturday, October 4th, 1856

46. Fanny Fern, Brooklyn, Saturday, October 4th, 1856

47. Walt Whitman, Brooklyn, Saturday, October 4th, 1856

48. Ellen Eldredge, New York, Thursday, May 26th, 1859

49. James Parton, New York, Thursday, May 26th, 1859

50. Fanny Fern, New York, Thursday, May 26th, 1859

51. Grace Eldredge Thomson, New York, Tuesday, September 16th, 1862

52. Fanny Fern and Grace Thomson, New York, Tuesday, December 23rd, 1862

53. Fanny Fern and Effie Thomson, Wednesday, March 20th, 1867

54. James Parton, New York, Saturday, April 11th, 1868

55. Fanny Fern and James Parton, Newport, Monday, August 26th,1872

56. Ellen Eldredge, Cambridge, Tuesday, October 13th, 1872

Epilogue

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