Tag Archives: Literature

Mark Twain and John Hay: The Statesman and the Storyteller


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The Historians LogoThis week on “The Historians” podcast Mark Zwonitzer discusses his book The Statesman and the Storyteller: John Hay, Mark Twain, and the Rise of American Imperialism (Algonquin, 2016). Author Mark Twain and Secretary of State John Hay were friends for many years. Hay began his career in public service as Abraham Lincoln’s private secretary during the Civil War. You can listen to the podcast here. Continue reading

Sculptor Edmonia Lewis: From Albany to Rome, Italy


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sculptor edmonia lewis from albany to romeWhen American writer Henry James labeled the group of American women sculpting in Rome the “white marmorean flock,” he also made another note. “One of the sisterhood was a negress, whose color, picturesquely contrasting with that of her plastic material [white marble], was the pleading agent of her fame.” Like many of his contemporaries, James attributed the success of Edmonia Lewis to her skin color while also disregarding her mixed-race heritage.

In the early nineteenth century, it was difficult to be an American sculptor. There were no professional art schools, no specialized carvers, few quality materials, and only a few practicing sculptors in America. The pilgrimage to Rome was a necessity for those who aspired to be sculptors. If a woman wished to pursue sculpting, she confronted additional obstacles. Continue reading

Margaret Fuller Marker Planned For Fishkill Landing


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Margaret FullerThe Pomeroy Foundation has awarded the city of Beacon, New York, a marker grant for the Margaret Fuller marker to be installed and dedicated in the spring of 2016.

Rev. Michael Barnett, representing women’s rights activist Margaret Fuller for the New York Cultural Heritage Tourism Network’s 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote in NYS 2017 Committee, collaborated with Elizabeth Evans, Assistant to the Mayor, and Robert Murphy, President of the Beacon Historical Society, to provide the primary source documentation. Continue reading

Alfred B. Street And The Rise of Foliage Tourism


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StreetWhile the tourism industry has prospered in Sullivan County, New York for more than 150 years now, the concept of fall foliage as a tourism tool is relatively new.

The idea of promoting the changing colors of the leaves on the trees to encourage tourists to visit an area did not exist much at all before the late 1930s, and although both the Berkshires in Massachusetts and the Poconos in Pennsylvania were promoting fall foliage tours as far back as the 1940s, the Catskills did not begin to cash in on the idea until the 1950s. Continue reading

Charles M. Dickinson: Lowville Poet and Diplomat


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CMDickinson02Among the foreign issues America has dealt with many times is hostage taking. Kidnappers have claimed various motives, but it was frequently done to extort money in support of a cause. Extortion kidnappings have often involved seizing of American missionaries and threatening to kill them unless ransom was paid. More than a hundred years ago, there occurred what is referred to as “America’s First Modern Hostage Crisis,” which is actually the subtitle of a 2003 book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Teresa Carpenter.

“The Miss Stone Affair” is the title, referring to Protestant missionary Ellen Maria Stone. A North Country man was a key player in her story, which riveted the nation for half a year. Continue reading

Wilder Homestead Named Literary Landmark


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WilderThe Wilder Homestead in Burke, NY, will be designated a Literary Landmark during a celebration on Saturday, July 11. The Homestead is the setting for Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy (1933), and is where Laura’s husband Almanzo grew up from 1857 until his family moved to Minnesota in 1875.

A bronze plaque will be unveiled during the celebration in conjunction with the Homestead’s Children’s Art Event (10 am to 4 pm). There will be art activities for children and 19th century games, along with an awards ceremony for the children’s art show. The public is invited to hear author and historian William Anderson speak about the Ingalls/Wilder family homes. Museum admission applies to this event. Continue reading

Does Your Community Have A Literary Landmark?


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Empire State Center for the Book Literary LandmarksHotels, bars, a lighthouse and a windmill are just some of the sites in New York State that have been declared Literary Landmarks by United for Libraries (formerly known as Friends of Libraries USA). The literary landmark program began in 1986 to encourage the dedication of historic literary sites.

The first literary landmark to be designated in New York was The Algonquin Hotel in 1996, home of the legendary Algonquin Roundtable  There are currently 15 landmarks in New York State with two more planned in the near future.  The Wilder Homestead in Malone, NY was made famous by Laura Ingalls Wilder in her book Farmer Boy will be dedicated this summer and The Robert Louis Stevenson Cottage in Saranac Lake , NY will receive its designation this fall. Continue reading

Kurt Vonnegut in Schenectady Talk Saturday


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Kurt VonnegutKurt Vonnegut, the renowned author of Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions, and Cat’s Cradle, spent an important part of his life in Schenectady. The region influenced his work, and Schenectady appears as the setting for many of his stories, including the novel Player Piano.

K.A. Laity will discuss Vonnegut’s time in Schenectady – as a PR man for General Electric, and as a volunteer fire fighter – and the region’s legacy in his work on Saturday, April 11th at 2 pm at Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction. The vent is part of the “It Came From Schenectady: Science Fiction in the Capital Region” exhibit series. Continue reading

Last of the Mohicans: Fiction Trumps History


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First edition Last of the mohicansIn early February 1826, Carey & Lea, one of the nation’s most prominent and successful publishers, announced the publication of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757. Cooper was already a best-selling author, widely hailed for presenting non-stop, exciting adventures set in the wilderness, wartime, or other bracing settings. Carey & Lea, hoping that his new book would do as well as his previous ones, had paid the author a $5,000 advance.

They were not to be disappointed. The Last of the Mohicans was an instant best-seller, reprinted many times, made into movies a number of times, and became one of the most important books in American literary history. Continue reading