Henrietta Matilda. She also wrote dozens of occasional poems; "The Deserted House," "Early Dusk," "A Foggy Afternoon," and "In Praise of Common Things" are among her finest.
Reese published two prose works: A Victorian Village appeared in 1929, followed by The York Road in 1931. It is her autobiographical account A Victorian Village that provides most of what we know about Reese's childhood, teaching career, and acquaintances with other literary figures. Her only attempt at fiction writing was the posthumously published Worleys ( 1936), a partially completed and rather conventional novel that recounts the effects of the Civil War on an eight-year-old girl whose badly wounded father dies after returning home from the war.
While Reese's work is only now being revisited as a result of the ongoing reassessment of American literary history, she enjoyed enormous popularity during her lifetime. In addition to her volumes of poetry, Reese's work regularly appeared in such periodicals as Scribner's, Atlantic, Century, Lippincott's, Harper's, Bookman, and Ladies' Home Journal. A dinner held in her honor in December 1926 was attended by such noted writers as Robert Frost, Sara Teasdale, Edwin Markham, Elinor Wylie, and William Rose Benét ( Jones11). Along with winning the Keats prize, Reese was also the recipient of the coveted Shelley Memorial and the Harper's National Poetry prize.
Criticism of Reese's work is almost universally positive. American novelist Hervey Allen applauded Reese's poetry as "pure gold" (vi) and "the music of life" (viii). He was particularly pleased that she "refrained from elaborating upon the general dolors of being a female or from harping upon some peculiarly sensitive difficulty of her own personality" (vi). Louis Untermeyer praised her work for its "undercurrent of intensity beneath its quiet contours" (109) and characterized her verse as "fresh" and "never banal" (110). "Hers is a singing that is not dependent on a fashion," Untermeyer wrote (110). Emily Stipes Watts , in The Poetry of American Women from 1632 to 1945, remarked that Reese was "one of the best women poets" of her time and author of "several excellent sonnets" (145-146). Robert P. Harriss insisted that Reese"influenced American lyric poetry as no other woman has done" (200). Robert J. Jones characterized Reese as "one of the world's true poets" (2), and an article in the Baltimore Sun in 1987 expressed the hope that someone would rescue "her poetry from undeserved oblivion" (quoted in Jones4).
A Branch of May. Baltimore: Cushing and Bailey, 1887. Reprint, Portland: Thomas B. Mosher, 1909.