About the author: Edward Ifkovic (Ph.D. in American Literature, University of Massachusetts at Amherst) has taught literature for three decades. He has written several critical studies as well as two novels, Ella Moon: A Novel Based on the Life of Ella Wheeler Wilcox (2001) and A Girl Holding Lilacs (2003).2004 0-7734-6396-8
Annie Trumbull Slosson (1832-1926) was an important short story writer who epitomized the American local color movement that flourished after the Civil War and ended at the beginning of the twentieth century. Along with writers like Sarah Orne Jewett, Mary Wilkins Freeman and Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, she helped establish the popular and critical model of the short story in which location and idiosyncratic characterization identified a particular region of the United States. In New England women dominated the genre, for the isolated farms and desolate villages were often places where women and old men lived—the young men had died in the war or had gone west in search of gold.
Slosson’s first work, The China Hunter’s Club (1878), helped establish the viability of local dialect, building on the tradition established by Harriet Beecher Stowe and Catherine Sedgwick. But in her two most important volumes, Seven Dreamers (1890) and Dumb Foxglove and Other Stories (1898) she reached full maturity, with stories that developed the mystical/psychological ramifications of her characters, mostly older women who abandoned the old-style Congregational/Calvinist puritanism of their forebears and embraced the new revisionist Protestantism—salvation by good deeds and decent behavior, a philosophy Slosson acquired in her schoolgirl days at Catherine Beecher’s Hartford Female Seminary. Slosson’s eclipse as a writer occurred in the new century, as other styles of prose fiction emerged, and local colorists were relegated to secondary “women’s” popular writing. As well, she began writing for the Sunday-school press, sentimental homilies that guaranteed her removal from the halls of serious literature. At the same time she became an entomologist, and her studies of the insect world, documented in important articles in entomological journals, became the central focus of her later life. Over one hundred newly-discovered insects bear the suffix slossonii.
When she died in 1926, she was remembered by the scientific world but she was totally forgotten by the literary world. Slosson is a writer who needs to be rediscovered, for her stories are often works of considerable literary worth. This is the first full-length study of this pioneering woman, a book that looks at her rich and varied life, as well as her significant contributions to the worlds of literature and entomology.