Frances Waldeaux by Rebecca Harding Davis

Two open white pages on an orange background.  A black background with a white W.  A black background with a white tentacled cat.

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Rebecca Harding Davis, a pioneer of American literary realism, was born in 1831. She’s most well known for a short story, Life in the Iron Mills, but found time to write books as well. Emily Dickinson and Nathaniel Hawthorne were both fans of the work after it was published in The Atlantic Monthly.

Her writing was heavily inspired by what she saw in her own life. Life in the Iron Mills was inspired by the workers she saw working the old iron mills. That is only the most well known of her works. During her life, Davis was a prolific writer – she wrote more than 500 works. Unfortunately, she was all but forgotten by her death; it wasn’t until the 70s and Second-wave feminism that her writing was rediscovered and republished.

Davis was survived by a son (who died six years after her): Richard Harding Davis, a war correspondent during the Spanish-American War, Second Boer War, and World War I.