In 1860, W. D. Howells, having written a campaign biography of Abraham Lincoln, was rewarded with the job of consul in Venice.
He arrived in Venice in 1862, at the age of twenty-five. For a young nineteenth-century American who had left school when he was nine to earn a living, the hardest part of his sinecure was that he had almost nothing to do. "I dreaded the easily formed habitof receiving a salary for no service performed," he wrote. "I reminded myself that, soon or late, I must go back to the old fashion of earning money, and that it had better be sooner than later."
And so -- "though for some reasons it was the saddest and strangest thing in the world to do" -- Howells left Venice. While he was on the whole happy to do so, Howells said upon his departure, "Neverhad the city seemed so dream-like and unreal as in this light of farewell."
Venetian Life flows from the enchantment, the magical improbability, of the years Howells spent in that magnificent city dining with the rich, mingling with the humble, and reporting on it all with a uniquely American wit and curiosity.
William Dean Howells
Howells , William Dean ( 1837 AD -1920 AD )
Renowned American novelist and critic, the dean of late 19th Century American letters, and the champion of literary realism. Howells was a close friend and adviser of Mark Twain and Henry James. He worked as an editor in the Ohio State Journal (1856-61). In 1860, he wrote a campaign biography of Lincoln. His travel books Venetian Life (1866) and Italian Journey (1867) brought recognitionto him. He was also associated with the Atlantic Monthly for 15 years and later wrote the Editor's Study (1886-91), and the "Easy Chair" (1900 - 1920) of Harper's Magazine. His other novels include: The Lady of the Aroostook (1879), Their Wedding Journey (1872), A Modern Instance (1882), and The Rise of Silas Lapham.
HOWELLS, WILLIAM DEAN (1837-1920), American novelist, was born atMartin's Ferry, Ohio, on the 1st of March 1837. His father, William Cooper Howells, a printer-journalist, moved in 1840 to Hamilton, Ohio, and here the boy's early life was spent successively as type-setter, reporter and editor in the offices of various newspapers. In the midst of routine work he contrived to familiarize himself with a wide range of authors in several modern tongues, and to drillhimself thoroughly in the use of good English. In 1860, as assistant editor of the leading Republican newspaper in Ohio, he wrote--in connexion with the Presidential contest--the campaign life of Lincoln; and in the same year he was appointed consul at Venice, where he remained till 1865. On his return to America he joined the staff of the Atlantic Monthly, and from 1872 to 1881 he was itseditor-in-chief. For a time he conducted for Harper's Magazine the department called "The Editor's Study," and in December 1900 he revived for the same periodical the department of "The Easy Chair". Of Mr Howells's many novels, the following may be mentioned as specially noteworthy: Their Wedding Journey (1872); The Lady of the Aroostook (1879); A Modern Instance (1882); The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885); TheMinister's Charge (1886); A Hazard of New Fortunes (1889); The Quality of Mercy (1892); The Landlord at Lion's Head (1897). He also published Poems (1873 and 1886); Stops of Various Quills (1895), a book of verse; books of travel; several amusing farces; and volumes of essays and literary criticism, among others, Literary Friends and Acquaintance (1901), which contains much autobiographical matter,Literature and Life (1902), and English Films (1905).
Howells is by general consent the foremost representative of the realistic school of indigenous American fiction. From the outset his aim was to portray life with entire fidelity in all its commonplaceness, and yet to charm the reader into a liking for this commonplaceness and into reverence for what it conceals. Though in his earliest...