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Anne Boyd Rioux
University of New Orleans (New Orleans, LA 70148-0001)
American Writer Constance Fenimore Woolson (1840-1894): A Biography

This literary and cultural biography of Constance Fenimore Woolson (1840-1894) will explore the combination of life circumstances and cultural influences that led Woolson to pursue a career as a serious literary artist, befriend some of the era’s most powerful literary men (including Henry James), spend her adult life traveling the U.S. and Europe, and ultimately commit suicide when she was fifty-three years old. However, I will emphasize that this final fact does not define her life, as it does in so many of the biographies and novels about James in which Woolson appears. Instead, what makes Woolson’s life particularly worth writing about is that it provides a hitherto under-recognized model of American female authorship in the nineteenth century. Hers was a public and geographically expansive career that enabled her to challenge her male peers, expose the grief of women artists in a climate of neglect and derision, and nonetheless achieve tremendous critical acclaim.

[Grant products][Media coverage]

Project fields:
American Literature

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2012 – 12/31/2012