Cable, George Washington

Cable, George Washington,

1844–1925, American author, b. New Orleans. He is remembered primarily for his early sketches and novels of creole life, which established his reputation as an important local-color writer. Cable served as a Confederate soldier in the Civil War and afterward was a writer and reporter for the New Orleans Picayune. His short stories of New Orleans culture began to appear in Scribner's Monthly in 1873; they were collected and published as Old Creole Days (1879). Among his novels are The Grandissimes (1880), Madame Delphine (1881), Dr. Sevier (1884), and Gideon's Band (1914). Cable's works depict the picturesque life of creoles in antebellum Louisiana with charm and freshness. Discernible in some of them is the author's moral opposition to slavery and class distinction. After 1884, Cable lived in Northampton, Mass. His later works, notably the essays collected in The Silent South (1885) and The Negro Question (1890), reveal his concern with social evils, particularly with the betrayal of the freed African American slaves.


See his letters, ed. by L. L. Leffingwell (1928, repr. 1967); biography by L. D. Rubin (1969); study by P. C. Butcher (1959).

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Cable, George Washington

(1844–1925) writer; born in New Orleans. When the Union forces occupied New Orleans in the Civil War, he joined a Mississippi cavalry regiment and fought in a number of engagements. After the war he held several jobs, contributed to a New Orleans newspaper, and in 1873, began to publish stories in Scribner's Monthly. The publication in 1879 of Old Creole Days, a collection of his stories drawing on the lore of old New Orleans, gained him quick national success and helped to popularize the "local color" movement then emerging in American fiction. Subsequent fictional works with New Orleans settings advanced his standing, but he had in the meantime become interested in the problems of former slaves. The reaction among some Southerners to his Silent South (1885), a collection of his essays and lectures calling for reform, led him to move to Northampton, Mass. He continued to publish novels, several dealing with the contrast between Northern and Southern manners and morals, and on reading tours with Mark Twain, who had expressed admiration for his work, he continued to agitate for equal rights for African-Americans, for prison improvements, and for other reforms.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.