have led to a revaluation of Davis as a writer intensely engaged with the issues of her times. For example, new interest in print culture has encouraged scholars to trace Davis's professional dealings with editors and periodicals. Recent reprintings of some of Davis's lesser-known work (i.e., Margret Howth and Jean Pfaelzer 's anthology of her magazine fiction and best nonfiction) have made more of her texts available to readers. The fine bio-bibliographical scholarship of Pfaelzer, Jane Atteridge Rose, and Sharon Harris, among others, lays the groundwork for future explorations of Davis's exhaustive body of work. Perhaps the most glaring lack in Davis criticism is the paucity of scholarship on any but a handful of her more than 500 texts. The bulk of her output, which was pro- duced for the ladies' and children's magazines, has been unanimously classed inferior. Admittedly, Davis herself seems to have manufactured this schism be- tween the art she submitted to literary magazines and the pulp she manufactured for economic benefit. For example, she resisted using her name in Peterson's bylines until 1890. However, her potboilers and children's fiction reached a much wider audience than her "serious" work; Peterson's alone boasted the largest circulation of any ladies' magazine in the United States. Though this work certainly appears more formulaic and "sentimental" than her experimental realism, it ably satisfied audience expectations. In light of Davis's abiding concern with representing and touching the lives of "common" people, one might view her work in popular magazines as her most effective.
The greatest tribute to Davis's influence is, perhaps, the number of women writers she has inspired to write truthfully and courageously of their own times. In "Women in Literature" ( 1891), she called upon women to write their own histories, to paint for future generations the "inner life and history of their time." Davis's contemporary Elizabeth Stuart Phelps answered Davis's call, explaining that Davis's work "made you feel as if she knew all about you, and were sorry for you, and as if she thought nobody was too poor, or too uneducated, or too worn-out with washing-days, and all the things that do not sound a bit grand in books, to be written about" (780). Tillie Olsen's modern-day tribute attests to the lasting legacy of Davis's work.
Anonymous. Review of A Law Unto Herself. Nation 26 ( 7 March 1878): 176.
Anonymous. Review of Margret Howth. Continental Monthly 1 ( April 1862): 467.
Anonymous. Review of Waiting for the Verdict. Lippincott's 1 ( January 1868): 118.
Davis, Rebecca Harding. Letter to Annie Fields. 10 January 1863. Richard Harding Davis Collection (#6109). Clifton Waller Barrett Library, University of Virginia.
Hawthorne, Sophia. Letter to Annie Fields. 25 April 1866. Boston Public Library.
James, Henry. Review of Dallas Galbraith. Nation 7 ( 22 October 1868): 331.
-----. Review of Waiting for the Verdict. Nation 5 ( 21 November 1867): 410.
Phelps, Elizabeth Stuart. "At Bay." Harper's New Monthly 34 ( May 1867): 780.