The Quaker City, or, The Monks of Monk Hall: A Romance of Philadelphia Life, Mystery, and Crime

The Quaker City, or, The Monks of Monk Hall: A Romance of Philadelphia Life, Mystery, and Crime

The Quaker City, or, The Monks of Monk Hall: A Romance of Philadelphia Life, Mystery, and Crime

The Quaker City, or, The Monks of Monk Hall: A Romance of Philadelphia Life, Mystery, and Crime

Synopsis

America's best-selling novel in its time, The Quaker City, published in 1845, is a sensational expose of social corruption, personal debauchery, and the sexual exploitation of women in antebellum Philadelphia. This new edition, with an introduction by David S. Reynolds, brings back into print this important work by George Lippard (1822-1854), a journalist, freethinker, and labor and social reformer.

Excerpt

George Lippard The Quaker City is one of the most important popular novels in American history. The fact that it was long forgotten, surviving only as an underground classic, in no way diminishes its significance. Today, with noncanonical literature and "bottom-up" history attracting widespread attention, we have a fresh opportunity to appreciate the many facets of Lippard's powerful, disturbing novel.

The publication of The Quaker City was a landmark event in popular culture. When it appeared in 1845, it sold 60,000 copies in its first year and 10,000 copies annually during the next decade. The most popular American novel before the appearance of Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), it went through some twenty-seven American printings in four years and was pirated in Germany and England, where it appeared under different titles. Its fierce social satire and suggestive eroticism made it an instant succes de scandale. It became, as Lippard boasted, "more attacked, and more read, than any work of American fiction ever published." By 1848 Godey's Lady's Book could say of Lippard: "This author has struck out on an entirely new path, and stands isolated on a point inaccessible to the mass of writers of the present day. He is unquestionably the most popular writer of the day, and his books are sold, edition after edition, thousand after thousand, while those of others accumulate, like useless lumber, on the shelves of the publishers."

Like certain other best-sellers of the period, such as Harriet BeecherStowe

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