Author: Thomas L. Long

an associate professor-in-residence at the University of Connecticut School of Nursing

Molly Elliot Seawell (1860–1916)

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


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.