Anna Cora Mowatt Criticism - Essay

Mary Howitt

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Memoir of Anna Cora Mowatt," in Howitt's Journal, Vol. III, No. 63, March 11, 1848, pp. 167-70.

[In the following excerpt, Howitt offers an appreciative memoir of the start of Mowatt's writing career and of the public reception of Fashion.]

Partly in consequence of Mr. Mowatt's residence in Europe, and partly from an affection of the eyes, he gave up his profession of barrister, and was subsequently induced to embark to a large extent in commercial speculations, when unfortunately one of those terrible crises occurring which convulse the whole mercantile world, he, together with thousands of others, found himself on the brink of ruin.

A time...

(The entire section is 4298 words.)

David W. Thompson

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Early Actress-Readers: Mowatt, Kemble, and Cushman," in Performance of Literature in Historical Perspectives, edited by David W. Thompson, University Press of America, 1983, pp. 629-50.

[In the following excerpt, Thompson discusses Mowatt's contributions to the tradition of dramatic reading and characterizes her performing style.]

Chautauqua marked the climax and not the beginning of the great American interest in public readings of literature. That interest swelled into a passion in the pair of decades just before and after 1900, but that expansion had been prepared for by two earlier developments. One was the patient and wide-spread lecturing on and...

(The entire section is 2013 words.)

Patti P. Gillespie

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Anna Cora Ogden Mowatt Ritchie's Fairy Fingers: From Eugène Scribe's?" in Text and Performance Quarterly, Vol. 2, April, 1989, 125-34.

[In the following essay, Gillespie analyzes the textual similarities between Mowatt's novel Fairy Fingers and a contemporary French play of the same name, arguing that Mowatt borrowed her plot from the French play.]

On March 29, 1858, Les Doigts de fée (in English, Fairy Fingers) opened at the Comédie française to dismal reviews. Undeterred, French audiences flocked to see this latest play by Eugène Scribe, and publishers immediately offered it to the reading public.1 Once again...

(The entire section is 4609 words.)

Doris Abramson

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "'The New Path': Nineteenth-Century American Women Playwrights," in Modern American Drama: The Female Canon, edited by June Schlueter, Associated University Presses, 1990, pp. 38-51.

[In the following excerpt, Abramson discusses Mowatt's Fashion as the foremost woman 's play of the nineteenth-century.]

In 1891, Laurence Hutton had this to say about native American drama:

The American drama—such as it is—may be divided into several classes, including the Indian Drama, and the plays of Frontier Life, which are often identical; the Revolutionary and war plays; the Yankee, or character plays, like The Gilded...

(The entire section is 2563 words.)

Lois J. Fowler and David H. Fowler

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Revelations of the Self: American Women in Autobiography, State University of New York Press, 1990, pp. xvi-xx, 1-2.

[In the following excerpt, the Fowlers introduce Mowatt's autobiography in the context of nineteenth-century culture.]

In 1854 there appeared a book entitled Autobiography of an Actress, or Eight Years on the Stage, by Anna Cora Mowatt, issued by the well-known Boston firm of Ticknor and Fields. The publishers, highly pleased with their record-breaking sales of Harriet Beecher Stowe's recent Uncle Tom 's Cabin, had good reason to suppose that their new female author, a popular actress, would bring them more profits. In the preceding...

(The entire section is 3259 words.)

James M. Hutchisson

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Poe, Anna Cora Mowatt, and T. Tennyson Twinkle," in Studies in the American Renaissance, 1993, pp. 245–54.

[In the following essay, Hutchisson analyzes Mowatt's acquaintanceship with Edgar Allan Poe and argues that one of her characters in Fashion was a parodic representation of Poe.]

In Anna Cora Mowatt's drawing-room comedy Fashion; or, Life in New York, which premiered at the Park Theatre in New York on 25 March 1845, there appears a minor character named T. Tennyson Twinkle, a diminutive poet who has recently achieved celebrity with a popular poem and who is romantically involved with wealthy older women. Twinkle, who appears only in the...

(The entire section is 4564 words.)

Jeffrey H. Richards

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Chastity and the Stage in Mowatt's 'Stella,'" in Studies in American Fiction, Vol. 24, No. 1, Spring, 1996, pp. 87–100.

[In the following essay, Richards examines the themes of chastity and the moral dangers of the theater in Mowatt's novella "Stella."]

At the end of her brief but illustrious theatrical career, the actress and playwright Anna Cora Mowatt returned to a genre she had worked earlier in her life, fiction, in order to convey some ideas she had about stage life. Her collection of three long stories, Mimic Life; or, Before and Behind the Curtain, appeared in 1856, approximately a year and a half after she had married William Foushee Ritchie,...

(The entire section is 5716 words.)