Life and Work of Writer Annie Trumbull Slosson - A Connecticut Local Colorist
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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.
“Ifkovic’s comprehensive study of local-color writer and amateur entomologist Annie Trumbull Slosson proves a noteworthy point: in the post-feminist eera are still important American women who need rediscovery – women whose cultural significance seems obvious once their story is told. Annie Trumbull Slosson is such a woman…..Ifkovic’s study of her life and work is long overdue. This is a comprehensive study of her long life and varied career. He tells the story with a thoroughness and often an eloquence that does homage to Slosson. Clearly he is a scholar who has been absorbed in this reconstructed biography/ evaluation. To explore a subject about whom so little biographical information is available is courageous, but Ifkovic is certainly up to the task. Henceforth Slosson should take her place as an American writer and scientist who deserves much more than the footnote she is usually granted in the standard reference works.” – Peta Howard, Professor Emeritus, Literature and Women’s Studies, Connecticut Community College system
“Ifkovic’s study is a model of sympathetic scholarship, an attempt to fuse her fictional creation with the day-to-day evolution of her personal life. His detailed exploration of her relationship with brother-in-law and companion W.C. Prime, based on letters and diaries, is exemplary. His “Coda” to the book ironically sums up perfectly the long life he tells us about, encapsulating both the world of her fiction with that of her own very real days.” – Charlene Rue, Librarian, Brooklyn Public Library
Table of Contents
Table of Contents:
1. The Writer in Her Time
2. In the Local Color Tradition
3. A Stonington Girlhood
4. The Early Hartford Years
5. The China Hunter’s Club
6. The 1880’s: Seven Dreamers
7. The 1890’s: The Heresy of Mehetabel Clark
8. The 1890’s: Dumb Foxglove and Other Stories
9. Entomology and Literature
10. The 1900’s: A Dissatisfied Soul
11. The 1900’s: A Local Colorist
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