Jane Talbot ( Novel). By: Charles Brockden Brown: Charles Brockden Brown (January 17, 1771 – February 22, 1810) Was An American Novelist, Historian, And Editor Of The Early National Period.
Charles Brockden Brown (January 17, 1771 – February 22, 1810) was an American novelist, historian, and editor of the Early National period. He is generally regarded by scholars as the most important American novelist before James Fenimore Cooper. He is the most frequently studied and republished practitioner of the "early American novel," or the US novel between 1789 and roughly 1820. Although Bro...
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n was not the first American novelist, as some early criticism claimed, the breadth and complexity of his achievement as a writer in multiple genres (novels, short stories, essays and periodical writings of every sort, poetry, historiography, reviews) makes him a crucial figure in US literature and culture of the 1790s and first decade of the 19th century, and a significant public intellectual in the wider Atlantic print culture and public sphere of the era of the French Revolution. Early life: Brown was born on January 17, 1771, the fourth of five brothers and six surviving siblings total in a Philadelphia Quaker merchant family. His father Elijah Brown, originally from Chester County, Pennsylvania, just southwest of Philadelphia, had a variable career primarily as a land-conveyancer or agent in real estate transactions. The two oldest brothers, Joseph and James, and youngest brother Elijah, Jr., were import-export merchants and bought shares in re-export ventures as early as the 1780s. Brown became a reluctant partner of their short-lived family re-export firm, James Brown & Co., from late 1800 to the firm's dissolution during 1806. The third brother, Armitt, was a clerk in the early 1790s for the Treasury department and at the Bank of Pennsylvania (for a time Armitt was a clerk with Alexander Hamilton), and later participated in the brothers' import-export firm. The family's mercantile background and experiences in the global trade and trade conflicts of the revolutionary era are relevant to Brown's writings insofar as he often explores issues connected to the period's culture of commerce and the role that commerce plays in the historical transition from 18th-century civic republicanism to 19th-century laissez-faire liberalism and capitalism. Brown's family intended for him to become a lawyer. After six years in Philadelphia at the law office of Alexander Wilcocks, he ended his law studies in 1793. He became part of a group of young, New York-based intellectuals who helped begin his literary career. The New York group included a number of young male professionals who called themselves the Friendly Club (including Dr. Elihu Hubbard Smith, Brown's closest friend during this period, and William Dunlap), along with female friends and relatives who were interested in companionship and cultural-political conversation. During most of the 1790s, Brown developed his literary ambitions in projects that often remained incomplete (for example the so-called "Henrietta Letters," transcribed in the Clark biography) and frequently used his correspondence with friends as a sort of laboratory for narrative experiments. His first publications appeared during the late 1780s (e.g. "The Rhapsodist" essay series from 1789), but generally he published little during this period. By 1798, however, these formative years gave way to a period of novel-writing during which Brown published the titles for which he is best known. In complex ways, these novels and the rest of Brown's career are informed by the progressive ideas he uses and develops from the period's British radical-democratic writers, most notably Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, Thomas Holcroft, and Robert Bage. Brown was influenced by these writers and in turn exerted an influence on them and their younger studiers, for example in Godwin's later novels, or in the work of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley, who reread Brown as she wrote her novels Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818) and The Last Man (1826)..............