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William Dean Howells
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    (March 1, 1837-May 11, 1920)
    Born in Martins Ferry, Ohio
    Novelist, essayist, poet and literary critic
    Edited the 'Atlantic Monthly' (1871-81)
    Proponent of 'realism' in literature
    Best known works were the short story 'Christmas Every Day' (1892) and novel 'The Rise of Silas Lapham' (1885)
    Nicknamed 'the Dean of American Letters'
    He suffered bouts of hypochondria, which convinced him he was dying of rabies when he 17, and forced him to quit a job as a newspaper typesetter because of psychosomatic migraines.
    He was named consul to Venice as a reward for writing a campaign biography of Abraham Lincoln (1861).
    In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Sinclair Lewis accused him of having exerted a genteel but paralyzing stranglehold on American literary tastes.
    He discovered Stephen Crane and Paul Laurence Dunbar.
    He was a critic of racial injustice and a founding member of the NAACP.
    He marched in a demonstration for women's suffrage when he was 75.
    He quipped, 'What the American public always wants is a tragedy with a happy ending.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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