Life in the Iron Mills and Other Stories

Life in the Iron Mills and Other Stories


Rebecca Harding Davis
A 1861 classic of social realism.

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Paperback Edition
ISBN: 9780935312393
Publication Date: 07-01-1985

Edited by Tillie Olsen

This 1861 classic of social realism remains a powerful evocation of what Davis herself called “thwarted, wasted lives . . . mighty hungers . . . and unawakened powers." The New York Times Book Review said of the novella: "You must read this book and let your heart be broken.” With an insightful biographical essay by Tillie Olsen, and with two short stories never before anthologized, this expanded edition is the most complete volume available from this important nineteenth-century writer.

"You must read this book and let your heart be broken." New York Times Book Review

"You are about to give the life of your reading to a forgotten American classic, Rebecca Harding's Life in the Iron Mills, reprinted here after 124 years from the April 1861 Atlantic Monthly. Without precedent or predecessor, it recorded what no one else recorded; alone in its epoch and for decades to come, saw the significance, the presage, in scorned or unseen native materials—and wrought them into art. Written in secret and in isolation by a thirty-year-old unmarried woman who lived far from literary circles of any kind, it won instant fame—to sleep in ever deepening neglect in our time." —Tillie Olsen, author of Silences

"One of the earliest recognitions in American literature of the existence of the very poor." —Michele Murray, National Observer

"Life in the Iron Mills has been described as the 'Uncle Tom's Cabin of American capitalism,' a work which first acknowledged the dignity and intelligence of working people. . . . It's an American classic that foreshadowed the naturalist technique of later nineteenth-century writers." San Francisco Chronicle