In this letter to the Bookman, published in the journal’s November 1900 issue, Thomas Dixon Jr. describes the setting of Mary Johnston‘s novel To Have and to Hold as it can be explored in modern-day Virginia. Dixon’s most famous novel, The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan, was published in 1905 and, in 1915, partially adapted into the silent film The Birth of a Nation.
In this article published in the New York Times on October 29, 1911, Mary Anna Jackson, widow of the Confederate general Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, attacks the novel The Long Roll by Mary Johnston. She contends it is not fair to her husband’s legacy.
In the preface to her novel Antifanaticism: A Tale of the South, published in 1853, Virginia writer Martha Haines Butt responds to the portrait of slavery presented in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s best-selling novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852).
In this excerpt from the novel Prisoners of Hope (1898) by Mary Johnston, Ricahecrian Indians, led by a chief called Grey Wolf, join a group of servants, led by Luiz Sebastian and a man called Roach, in an attack on Verney Manor in Gloucester County in 1663. The home is defended by Colonel Richard Verney, his kinsman Sir Charles Carew, his daughter Patricia, the convict servant Godfrey Landless, and various others. Johnston’s book is loosely based on the Gloucester County Conspiracy.
Blake; or the Huts of America is a novel by Martin R. Delany that was serially published in the Anglo-African Magazine in 1859 and the Weekly Anglo-African in 1861 and 1862 (it was not published in complete book form until 1970). Delany was born free in 1812 in Charles Town, Virginia (later West Virginia). Giving a panoramic view of slave life in the nineteenth century, Delany’s novel tells the story of Henry Blake, an escaped slave who travels throughout the southern United States and to Cuba in an effort to plan a large-scale slave insurrection. Written in part as a response to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), Blake‘s strong, militant, and revolutionary protagonist offers a counterexample to the seemingly docile Uncle Tom character popularized by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852). Because the final installments of the novel have been lost, twenty-first-century readers may never know if Blake’s planned revolution is successful; still, the novel offers an important nineteenth-century depiction of slavery and a potential way to end it.
The Cavaliers of Virginia; or, The Recluse of Jamestown. An Historical Romance of the Old Dominion (1834–1835), published in two volumes, is the second of three novels by William Alexander Caruthers, a physician who helped originate the romantic Virginia novel and who died of tuberculosis in 1846. An action-adventure story and romance set in Jamestown during Bacon’s Rebellion (1676–1677), the novel uses the backdrop of colonial Virginia to tell its story, making characters of such noted figures as Nathaniel Bacon and Sir William Berkeley but in general not following the history. Unlike the historical Bacon, the novel’s character is the ward of a Virginia aristocrat who vies for the hand of that aristocrat’s daughter. At the same time, an Indian “princess” covets Bacon, even during conflict with the English invaders. These romantic tribulations overlap with political discontent within the colony, which erupts in open warfare between Bacon and his men and the governor and his followers. Caruthers drew on the myth of the Virginia Cavalier—a dashing and gentlemanly hero—in his portrayal of Bacon, and the novel was well received by reviewers, better than either of the author’s other two novels. Modern-day scholars have debated the book’s use of history and the Cavalier archetype but otherwise have not paid it more than cursory attention.