We Might Have Wed," "Used Up," and "Youth's Suicide." Well executed and penetrating though these poems are, Lathrop's most skillful, subtle, and complex handling of the theme of the vacuity of social mores is entitled "Neither." Published only in Along the Shore, "Neither" anticipates T. S. Eliot "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufock." Like Prufrock, the speaker in "Neither" is a man whose self-deprecating monologue in the manner of Laforgue questions identity at a crossroad. He is, however, "Doomed to mere fashionable ways" in a society devoid of grander schemes for damnation. Issues of moment succumb to the trivialities of "cigarettes, and tea, / Sighs, mirrors, and society."
Far less interesting are Lathrop's elegiac poems, though they poignantly remind the reader of her grief over the death of her son ( "Francie") and her father ( "Power against Power"). "The Roads That Meet"--divided into sections on art, love, and charity--hint at the shift her life would take after her conversion to Catholicism.
In the early 1890s, partly from financial necessity, Lathrop turned her pen to biographical subjects. She published a series of articles on her father that she eventually turned into Memories of Hawthorne ( 1897). With her husband, she wrote A Story of Courage: Annals of the Georgetown Convent of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary ( 1894), a history of the Visitation Nuns in America. Both of these works indicate as much about Lathrop's burgeoning commitment to social justice as they do about their ostensible subjects.
Along the Shore, Lathrop's collection of poems that appeared in 1888, received mixed reviews, as did many of her short stories. Without a doubt, the most consistently generous critics of her poetry and fiction were her brother, Julian Hawthorne, and her husband, George Parsons Lathrop. Both of these men enjoyed flourishing literary careers of their own and considerable sway among publishers. Lathrop's biographical works about her father, although they too met with some mixed reviews, were enthusiastically received by the general public and highly marketable. Lathrop had discovered a profitable métier at the very moment she decided to abandon it for another calling entirely.
Along the Shore. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1888.
A Story of Courage: Annals of the Georgetown Convent of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. With George Parsons Lathrop. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1894.
Memories of Hawthorne. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1897. New ed., Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1923.