Charles Brockden Brown, Pioneer Voice of America

Charles Brockden Brown, Pioneer Voice of America

Charles Brockden Brown, Pioneer Voice of America

Charles Brockden Brown, Pioneer Voice of America


Charles Brockden Brown: Pioneer Voice of America is an interpretation of Brockden Brown's place in American life and literature. Into the colorful field of fictionalized biography, though tempted, I have not strayed. Facts, tyrannous though they be, have ever been before me in my portrayal of the author's life. The emphasis on Brown as interpreter of American life has, I hope, not overshadowed Brown the man, the lover, and the friend, and has not lent credence to the fatuous fable that Brown was a consummate prig. In his manifold activities as lover, friend, editor, schoolmaster, merchant, literary critic, and novelist, Brown has been presented in this biography in as much fulness as the known facts would warrant.

The chief purpose of this biography has been to stress the varied interests and accomplishments of an American who, unfortunately, has been known merely as a novelist or as the first professional man of letters in America. In this volume Brown is for the first time presented in his full dimensions.

Several years ago William Linn Brown, grandson of Charles Brockden Brown, placed in my hands, for my exclusive use, a large body of unpublished manuscripts of his grandfather -- letters, journals, and fragments of novels. This material -- listed in detail in the bibliography -- has enabled me to present a fuller and more accurate account of Brown's varied activities than would have otherwise been possible. Many previously obscure details of his life are now clarified.

In the preparation of this biography I have incurred more obligations than I can readily enumerate. Many little acts of kindness and of love must, I fear, go unacknowledged. To the late Carl Van Doren I am indebted for the suggestion that I undertake the work and for his encouragement when the going was difficult and the goal indistinct.

To the Graduate Research Institute of the University of Texas I am indebted for funds for the materials of research and for a research assistant, and for a semester's research leave from my official duties at the University.

Grateful acknowledgments are hereby made to the librarians of the following public institutions for valuable assistance: the Historical Society of Pennsylvania for permission to publish four manuscript letters and fragments of a novel, and to consult the Elijah Brown Diaries; the Library Company of Philadelphia for the use of a manuscript letter; Haverford College for permission to publish four manuscript letters; the New York Public Library for the use of one manuscript letter and for a photostatic copy of the original edition of Alcuin; the Library of the New York Historical Society for permis-

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