Missing Ralph Keeler: Bohemians, Brahmins and literary friendships in the Gilded Age

Smith, Thomas Ruys ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9177-9536 (2016) Missing Ralph Keeler: Bohemians, Brahmins and literary friendships in the Gilded Age. Comparative American Studies, 14 (2). pp. 139-161. ISSN 1477-5700

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Though almost entirely forgotten, Ralph Keeler (1840–1873) occupies a unique position in American literary history. In the decade after the Civil War, he achieved fame as an essayist and travel writer. Navigating between the literary poles of San Francisco and Boston at crucial moments, he developed significant friendships with luminaries like Mark Twain, William Dean Howells and Thomas Bailey Aldrich. But while those men were experiencing the transitions of marriage, fatherhood and domestic responsibility, Keeler remained a self-styled vagabond. He consciously crafted a distinctive reputation as a Bohemian bachelor, opposed to bourgeois respectability. This article argues that the rediscovery of Keeler’s lost trajectory through these personal and professional relationships changes our sense of the development of American literature in the postbellum period. In particular, Keeler serves as a point of comparison that complicates our understanding of the life, work and self-conception of canonical figures like Twain and Howells.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: ralph keeler,mark twain,william dean howells,thomas bailey aldrich,vagabond,bachelor,friendship
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > American Studies
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2016 09:05
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 16:53
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/57614
DOI: 10.1080/14775700.2016.1242651

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