Brown, Charles Brockden

Brown, Charles Brockden,

1771–1810, American novelist and editor, b. Philadelphia, considered the first professional American novelist. After the publication of Alcuin: A Dialogue (1798), he wrote such novels as Edgar Huntly (1799), Arthur Mervyn (2 vol., 1799–1800), and Ormond (1799), in which he presented arguments for social reform. Wieland (1799) was by far his most popular work and foreshadowed the psychological novel. To support himself after 1800 he became a merchant but also edited successively three periodicals, wrote political pamphlets, and projected a compendium on geography.


See B. Rosenthal, ed., Critical Essays on Charles Brockden (1981); A. Axelrod, Charles Brockden Brown: An American Tale (1983).

Brown, Charles Brockden


Born Jan. 17, 1771, in Philadelphia; died there Feb. 22, 1810. American writer.

Brown was one of the forerunners of romanticism in the literature of the USA. He was the son of a Quaker merchant and studied jurisprudence. In the dialogue Alcuin (1798), which was written under the influence of W. Godwin, Brown came out in defense of equal rights for women. In the novel Wieland, or the Transformation (1798), he told about an American family that fell victim to an adventurer. The triumph of justice over the forces of evil is the main idea in the novels Arthur Mervyn (vols. 1-2, 1799-1800) and Ormond (1799). In the novel Edgar Huntly (1799), Brown was the first to examine the life of the Indians.


The Rhapsodist and Other Uncollected Writings. New York, 1943.
Novels, vols. 1-6. Philadelphia, 1887.


Istoriia amerikanskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.
Clark, D. L. Charles Brockden Brown, a Critical Biography. [No place, 1923.]

Brown, Charles Brockden

(1771–1810) writer; born in Philadelphia. A Quaker and Philadelphia lawyer who moved to New York City to write (1796), he is regarded as the country's first professional author. His first publication, Alcuin: A Dialogue (1798), was on the rights of women. He wrote four groundbreaking American Gothic romances, including Wieland (1798) and Arthur Mervyn (2 vols. 1799–1800). As these did not earn him much money, he returned to Philadelphia (1801) and worked as a merchant, editor, and translator. He died of tuberculosis.
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Gardner is particularly convincing in his treatment of a series of novelists-- William Hill Brown, Charles Brockden Brown, Susanna Rowson, and Hannah Webster Foster whose books resemble the periodical culture from which they emerged more than they do nineteenth-century novels.
Brown, Charles Brockden, Edgar Huntly; or, Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker; with Related Texts.
Wieland (in full Wieland, or The Transformation) Gothic novel by Brown, Charles Brockden, published in 1798.