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"The Cultural Work of the Late Nineteenth Century Hostess: Annie Adams Fields and Mary Gladstone Drew" explores the influence that well-placed, energetic women had on literary and political culture in the US and in England in the years 1870-1920. Fields, an American, was first married to James T. Fields, a prominent Boston publisher. After his death she became companion to Sarah Orne Jewett, one of the foremost New England writers. Gladstone was a daughter of William Gladstone, one of Great Britain's most famous Prime Ministers. Both women became well known as hostesses, entertaining the leading figures of their day. Both also kept journals and wrote letters in which they recorded those figures' conversations. Susan K. Harris reads these records to exhibit the impact such women had on the cultural life of their times. The book shows how Fields and Gladstone negotiated alliances, won over key figures to their parties' designs, and fought to develop major cultural institutions ranging from the Organization of Boston Charities to London's Royal College of Music.
SUSAN K HARRIS currently is Professor of American Literature at Penn State - University, University Park. Previously, she taught for fifteen years at Queens - College, of the City University of New York. Her publications include The - Courtship of Olivia Langdon and Mark Twain (Cambridge University Press, 1996); 19th-Century American Women's Novels: Interpretive Strategies (Cambridge University Press, 1990); and Mark Twain's Escape from Time: A Study of Patterns and Images (University of Missouri Press, 1982). She has also edited Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Houghton Mifflin, 2000); Harriet Beecher Stowe's The Minister's Wooing (Penguin, 1999); and Mark Twain: Historical Romances (The Library of America, 1994). Her essays have appeared in collections published by Oxford, Johns Hopkins, and Rutgers University presses, and in journals such as American Literature, New England Quarterly, and Studies in the Novel. She has edited Legacy: A Journal of American Women's Writing, and has served on advisory boards for Leviathan: the Melville Society Journal, The Oxford Reader's Companion to Mark Twain, and the Mark Twain Museum in Hannibal, Missouri.