The Silent Partner
The Silent Partner (1871) and “The Tenth of January” (1868) were among the earliest realistic portrayals of industrial life—and social injustice—in the United States. The novel focuses on Sip, a mill worker, and Miss Kelso, the silent partner in the mill after her father’s death. The lives of these two women intersect as worker and owner as they both reject marriage proposals in favor of new vocations, underscoring Phelps’s vision that, regardless of class, women can be united around their right to work.
"Reissue of The Silent Partner increases our capacity to appreciate the achievement of Elizabeth Stuart Phelps as it also helps us to reweave the fabric of American women's literary traditions following the Civil War."
"Phelps's The Silent Partner has attracted scholars who study the economic, the political, and the realistic novel. Without exception, they consider her the first American novelist to treat the theme of urban, industrial blight."
"These days, when union workers strike mainly for better benefits packages or pension plans, it is hard to remember the appalling conditions of laborers in this country less than 100 years ago. Ms. Phelps's novel reminds us just how dreadful those conditions were, and how unacceptable it was for members of 'polite society' to attempt to change them. Her heroines are strong women who overcome the expectations of their class to reach out and make changes, both for themselves and others."