In Conversation: Anne Boyd Rioux and Sheridan Hay on Constance Fenimore Woolson
Thursday March 24, 2016
This event featured biographer and academic, Anne Boyd Rioux, in conversation with novelist, Sheridan Hay, discussing the life and work of one of America’s preeminent nineteenth century novelists, Constance Fenimore Woolson.
About Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist by Anne Boyd Rioux
"Anne Boyd Rioux’s new biography of Constance Fenimore Woolson is a riveting portrait of a lady whose literary reputation has been undeservedly eclipsed until quite recently. A best-selling nineteenth-century American novelist, friend of countless intellectuals (including Henry James and others in his circle), and intrepid traveler, the stubbornly independent Woolson was compared in her day to the Brontës, Jane Austen, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Mary Wilkins Freeman, and James himself produced a critical study of her work. Yet after her death she was sadly forgotten. Now Rioux brings her vividly back to life in a book that is both perceptive and poignant.” —Sandra Gilbert
Constance Fenimore Woolson (1840–1894), who contributed to Henry James’s conception of his heroine Isabelle Archer in The Portrait of a Lady, was one of the most accomplished American writers of the nineteenth century. Yet today the best-known (and most-misunderstood) facts of her life are her relationship with James and her probable suicide in Venice. This first full-length biography of Woolson provides a fuller picture that reaffirms her literary stature.
Anne Boyd Rioux is a professor of English at the University of New Orleans and president of the Woolson Society. A recipient of two National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, she is the author of Wielding the Pen and Writing for Immortality.
Sheridan Hay holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her first novel, The Secret of Lost Things (Doubleday / Anchor) was a Booksense Pick, A Barnes and Noble Discover selection, short listed for the Border's Original Voices Fiction Prize, and nominated for the International Impac Award. A San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and a New York Times Editor's Choice, foreign rights have been sold in fourteen countries.
Sheridan leads various reading groups on nineteenth century novels at The Center for Fiction. To sign up for her spring group, juxtaposing four short works by Henry James and Constance Fenimore Woolson, click here.