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William Dean Howells Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Dec 1996

Biographical History

William Dean Howells (1837-1920) was an American author, novelist and literary critic. Born in Ohio, he had his first poem published (by his newspaper editor father) at the age of 15. Starting in 1858 he wrote poetry, short stories, and translations for the Ohio State Journal, and in 1860 he published a biography of Abraham Lincoln. He wrote for various magazines and publications until 1866 when he became assistant editor, and then editor (1871), of the Atlantic Monthly, a position he held until 1881. In 1904, he was one of the first seven chosen for membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and he later served as the organization's president.

Howells wrote plays, essays, and literary criticism but is perhaps best known for his novels, which include Their Wedding Journey (1872), A Modern Instance (1882), The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885), Annie Kilburn (1888), and A Hazard of New Fortunes (1890).

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The William Dean Howells Collection consists of correspondence and one manuscripts. Writing from the office of the Atlantic Monthly to Clara F. Guernsey, Howells says:

"Editors and critics haev such a low opinion of one another that I'm rather glad that the story comes to me after numerous refusals."

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is in chronological order.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has numerous books, pamphlets, serials and other items by Howells which are cataloged in the Rare Books Collection. Please be sure to search the Classic Catalog for these related materials.

Subject Headings


Howells, William Dean, 1837-1920.


Novelists, American -- 19th century.
Realism in literature.

Genres and Forms

Letters (correspondence)
Manuscripts for publication.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

William Dean Howells Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchase, various.

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