Charm and Virility, circa 1884

Emily Satterwhite

in Dear Appalachia

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780813130101
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813135854 | DOI:
Charm and Virility, circa 1884

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Chapter 1 examines the reception of Mary Noailles Murfree's Atlantic Monthly stories, published under the pseudonym “Charles Egbert Craddock” and reprinted as In the Tennessee Mountains (1884). Print reviews and articles suggest metropolitan elite readers desired to imagine the unknown author as a rugged mountaineer before Craddock revealed “himself” to be the genteel Miss Murfree. Craddock's persona and local color stories helped such readers negotiate their anxieties about immigration, overcivilization, urbanization, and homogenization as well as their investments in nativism, nationalism, and imperialism. Yet archived correspondence demonstrates that Murfree's stories suggested a different persona and met a different set of needs for nonmetropolitan admirers. Unlike metropolitan readers, local elites throughout North America rightly intuited the writer's class and social status, even though they, too, had been fooled into believing Craddock to be a man. Local elites saw the popularity of Murfree's fiction as a resource for promoting the prominence of their domains in the face of widely held hierarchies of place that devalued nonmetropolitan places. At the same time, they believed the author's acceptance into highbrow circles boded well for their own advantageous incorporation into a national highbrow network.

Keywords: Mary Noailles Murfree; Charles Egbert Craddock; In the Tennessee Mountains; local color; Gilded Age; readers; highbrow network; Atlantic Monthly

Chapter.  9076 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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