Author: Thomas L. Long

an associate professor-in-residence at the University of Connecticut School of Nursing
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Molly Elliot Seawell (1860–1916)

Molly Elliot Seawell was the author of forty books, including regional fiction, romances, books for boys (primarily nautical stories), and nonfiction. She also penned political columns for newspapers in Washington, D.C., and New York. Socially conservative, she opposed he growing woman suffrage movement, and her consistent depictions of Black people as servants and slaves—while acceptable to and endorsed by much of her white readership at that time—reflected her belief that Black people were inferior and peripheral members of society. Despite her social views, critics often described her books, many of which were reviewed in the New York Times, as “sweet” or wholesome.” Though her books boasted vividly drawn characters, they did not pursue the themes and styles of literary realism that characterized the more progressive literary trends of her time. Seawell, however, remained a single woman and worked as a prolific writer who supported her household by her various publications.

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William Byrd (1674–1744)

William Byrd, sometimes referred to as William Byrd II of Westover to distinguish him from relatives of the same name, was a planter, a surveyor, a member of the governor’s Council (1709–1744), and a man of letters. Born in Virginia, Byrd was educated and practiced law in England. He returned to Virginia in 1705, after the death of his father. Shortly afterward he was appointed to the governor’s Council, and in the 1720s he served as the London agent of the House of Burgesses. He helped survey the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina and established the town of Richmond on the north side of the James River. He was also a prolific writer, and is perhaps best known today for his diaries and the manuscript narratives of his surveying, both of which are frequently anthologized in textbooks of American literature. Byrd typified both the values of British colonial gentry and the ethos of an emerging American identity invested in the improvement of the self and of the colonial commonwealth.