William Dean Howells

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

Howells, William Dean


Born Mar. 1, 1837, in Martin’s Ferry, Ohio; died May 11, 1920, in New York City. American writer.

Howells was the son of a journalist. He became a reporter and later wrote a biography of Abraham Lincoln during the election campaign of 1860; from 1861 to 1865 he was the US consul in Venice. In the early novels, including Their Wedding Journey (1872) and A Chance Acquaintance (1873), Howells painted a penetratingly vivid picture of the life of the American aristocracy. Later, however, in the mid-1880’s, under the influence of the social strife in the USA, he emphasized themes of social criticism in his works, for example, the novels A Hazard of New Fortunes (1890; Russian translation, 1890) and The World of Chance (1893; Russian translation, 1898). Howells’ views became radicalized: he declared his sympathies with the socialism of the Christian reformist trend in the Utopian novels A Traveler From Altruria (1894; Russian translation, 1895) and Through the Eye of the Needle (1907) and condemned imperialistic wars. Howells was also the author of several books of travel essays, including Venetian Life (1866).

An authoritative literary critic, Howells was a champion of realistic art, and he popularized Russian (Turgenev and Tolstoy) and Western European (Ibsen, Zola, and Hardy) literature in the USA.


Representative Selections. New York [1961].
In Russian translation:
“Edita.” In Amerikanskaia novella, vol. 1. Moscow, 1958.


Istoriia amerikanskoi literatury, part 1. Moscow, 1971.
Elistratova, A. A. “Vil’iam Din Gouels i Genri Dzheims.” In Problemy istorii literatury SShA. Moscow, 1964.
Gilenson, B. A. “U. D. Khouells i sotsialisticheskoe dvizhenie.” Uch. zap. Ural’skogo un-ta, 1970, issue 15, no. 98.
Brooks V. W. Howells: His Life and World. New York, 1959.


References in periodicals archive ?
7) See Sender Garlin, William Dean Howells and the Haymarket Era (New York: American Institute for Marxist Studies, 1979), Robert L.
In what is arguably his most important realist work, William Dean Howells, chief spokesman, theorist, and practitioner of American literary realism--who, furthermore, conceived of American literary realism as an antidote to a romantic tradition associated with "the Old World"--arrives at an aesthetic and philosophical juncture that marks the culmination of visionary romantic art: the sublime.
5) William Dean Howells, Indian Summer, with an introduction by Tony Tanner and notes by John Dugdale (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), Introduction, p.
Instead of insisting on what sometimes feels like a forced unity, I would have preferred that Petrie organize his readings more loosely around the question of how different turn-of-the-century writers regarded literature's possibilities for creating bonds across social divides, bonds that they hoped would become socially (in current jargon) "actionable," without so insistently subordinating this large and broadly applicable question under the proper name of William Dean Howells.
The Realist at War: The Mature Years, 1885-1920, of William Dean Howells.
William Dean Howells traces the writer's life from his boyhood in Ohio before the Civil War, to his consularship in Italy under President Lincoln, to his rise as editor of the Atlantic Monthly.
When the young William Dean Howells visited him in Concord in 1860, the occasion was silent and awkward: "I saw that he was as much abashed by our encounter as I was; he was visibly shy to the point of discomfort," wrote Howells about it afterward.
Chesnutt, proud to be a pioneer of the Negro view, challenged the segregationist, often-patronizing opinions of the white populist scribes, Thomas Dixon (The Clansman), William Dean Howells (An Imperative Duty) Bliss Perry (The Plated City) and Mark Twain (Pudd'nhead Wilson).
The six authors range from those whom Twain knew well and with whom he visited often--such as William Dean Howells and sometime neighbor Harriet Beecher Stowe--to others whom he saw less frequently--such as Robert Louis Stevenson--whom he met only once.
The nineteenth-century novelist William Dean Howells identified an abiding concern in American literature for the "more smiling aspects of life.
He writes in the style of Henry James and William Dean Howells, his literary heroes and ancestors, never deals with contemporary social problems, and his characters are seldom poor.
Other contributions of the book include discussions of the Civil War (Shakers were in favor of the union), the involvement with spiritualism and mediums, the Grosvenor schism led by two sisters, investing in Kansas City real estate mortgages, and the impact on a number of authors, including William Dean Howells, Bronson Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Harriet Hunt.