Rose Terry Cooke Criticism - Essay

Atlantic Monthly (review date 1861)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Review of Poems. Atlantic Monthly VII, no. XLI (March 1861): 382.

[In the following review, the critic concedes that although readers are accustomed to reading prose by Cooke, her poetry also elicits a favorable response.]

We forget who it was that once charitably christened one of his volumes “Prose by a Poet,” in order that the public might be put on their guard as to the difference between it and the others,—inexperienced critics are so apt to make mistakes! The example seems to us worth following, and, were this dangerous frankness made a point of honor in title-pages, we should be able at a glance to distinguish the books that must be bought...

(The entire section is 481 words.)

Harriet Prescott Spofford (essay date 1888)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Spofford, Harriet Prescott. “Rose Terry Cooke.” In Our Famous Women: An Authorized Record of Their Lives and Deeds, pp. 174-206. Hartford: A. D. Worthington & Co., 1888.

[In the following essay, Spofford, a friend of Cooke, discusses the fictional and autobiographical writings of the author.]

A quarter of a century ago, most of us can recall the joyous pride with which the birth of the Atlantic Monthly was hailed, and the eagerness with which each number was anticipated. Into what charming company it took us! There the Autocrat of the Breakfast-table held his genial sway; Motley fought over the “Battle of Lepanto”; Colonel Higginson led us...

(The entire section is 11027 words.)

Harriet Prescott Spofford (essay date 1916)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Spofford, Harriet Prescott. “Rose Terry Cooke,” in A Little Book of Friends, pp. 143-156. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1916.

[In the following essay, Spofford offers her personal observations on Cooke's life and career.]

With what pleasure the circle of girls of which I was one read Rose Terry's stories in the first Atlantic magazines! We went across the river to a place of woods and rejoiced in the Autocrat and in Rose Terry. That we could ever know Rose Terry and call her Rose never entered our heads. She was far away in upper skies. Hers were the first of the dialect stories (although Mrs. Stowe's were nearly of the same period) since the...

(The entire section is 2209 words.)

Babette May Levy (essay date 1946)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Levy, Babette May. “Mutations of New England Local Color.” New England Quarterly XIX, no. 3 (September 1946): 345-57.

[In the following excerpt, Levy argues that the criticism present in Cooke's writing is targeted towards ungrateful, affluent New Englanders.]

Rose Terry Cooke, born in 1827, … came of a well-to-do family that included in the immediately preceding generations a congressman, a bank president, and a ship builder. She taught school and reared her dead sister's family before she married, in 1873, Rollin Hillyer Cooke, an iron manufacturer and private banker. Mrs. Cooke's stories and sketches had been appearing in various magazines, including...

(The entire section is 1476 words.)

Jay Martin (essay date 1967)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Martin, Jay. “Rose Terry Cooke,” in Harvests of Change: American Literature 1865-1914, pp. 139-42. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1967.

[In the following essay, Martin examines Cooke's regional short stories, claiming that her characterizations of New England farmers and their wives constitute her best work.]

Rose Terry Cooke had attended the Hartford Female Seminary, which Catherine Beecher, Harriet's sister, founded and organized on the principles she had derived from her conversion to a personal religion based on love rather than sin. There Miss Terry was influenced by the Rev. John Pierce Brace, who had been Harriet's instructor at Litchfield...

(The entire section is 1667 words.)

Susan Allen Toth (essay date 1971)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Toth, Susan Allen. “Rose Terry Cooke (1827-1892).” American Literary Realism 1870-1910 4, no. 2, (spring 1971): 170-76.

[In the following essay, Toth provides an overview of scholarship on Rose Terry Cooke.]


Although her romantic poetry, religious tracts, and sentimental love stories may have been justly forgotten, Rose Terry Cooke's New England local-color tales have never won deserved recognition, either in proportion to their wide publication or to their varying literary merit. James Russell Lowell praised her early collection of poems in 1861, but he spoke more enthusiastically of her “as a writer of...

(The entire section is 2596 words.)

Perry D. Westbrook (essay date 1981)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Westbrook, Perry D. “Willfulness and Wrongheadedness: The Hill People of Rose Terry Cooke,” in Acres of Flint: Sarah Orne Jewett and Her Contemporaries, revised edition, pp. 78-85. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1981.

[In the following essay, Westbrook discusses the comic and tragic characters created by Cooke. Where other New England writers saw the hardships of farm life resulting in tough, self-reliant individuals, Cooke believed the harsh conditions destroyed the women, both mentally and physically, and turned the men into hardened bullies.]

And how, we ask, would New England's rocky soil and icy hills have been made mines of wealth...

(The entire section is 3902 words.)

Katherine Kleitz (essay date 1982)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Kleitz, Katherine. “Essence of New England: The Portraits of Rose Terry Cooke.” American Transcendental Quarterly, nos. 47-48 (summer/fall 1980): 127-39.

[In the following essay, Kleitz explores Cooke's use of local features of landscape and climate as determining factors in the lives of her characters.]

In 1857, thirty-year-old Rose Terry Cooke was respected enough to be honored by an invitation to write the first short story for the inaugural issue of the Atlantic Monthly. Yet, a hundred and twenty-five years later, Cooke's work has slipped out of a canon of literature which prefers to emphasize the writings of nineteenth-century male Romantics and...

(The entire section is 5566 words.)

Josephine Donovan (essay date 1983)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Donovan, Josephine. “Rose Terry Cooke: Impoverished Wives and Spirited Spinsters,” in New England Local Color Literature: A Women's Tradition, pp. 68-81. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing, 1983.

[In the following essay, Donovan examines Cooke's short stories, claiming that the author rejected romanticism and sentimentality and chose instead to depict the grim reality of rural life in New England and its devastating effect on women.]

Born to an inheritance of hard labor … fighting with … the instinct of self-preservation, against a climate … rigorous [and] fatally changeful; a soil bitter and barren … without any excitement to...

(The entire section is 5515 words.)

Elizabeth Ammons (essay date 1986)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ammons, Elizabeth. Introduction to “How Celia Changed Her Mind” and Selected Stories, by Rose Terry Cooke, pp. ix-xxxv. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1986.

[In the following essay, Ammons discusses Cooke's popularity in the nineteenth century as a writer whose short stories record the hardships of women's lives and the cruelty of their fathers, brothers, and husbands.]

Rose Terry Cooke is unfamiliar today. That was not the case one hundred years ago when there seemed to be an abundance of women eager to pose as the popular New England regionalist. One such impersonator, a magnetic Christian zealot who dove into trances that provoked wild...

(The entire section is 11209 words.)

Cheryl Walker (essay date 1992)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Walker, Cheryl. “Profile: Rose Terry Cooke, 1827-1892.” Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers 9, no. 2 (fall 1992): 143-49.

[In the following essay, Walker provides an overview of Cooke's career as a prolific writer of realistic short stories and romantic poetry.]

At least two Rose Terry Cookes command our attention a hundred years after the historical woman's death. One, the writer of realist short stories, has long been recognized as a pioneer of New England regional fiction, an innovator in the use of dialect, and the forerunner of works by Rebecca Harding Davis and Harriet Beecher Stowe, among others.1 This Rose Terry (as she was known...

(The entire section is 3156 words.)

Sherry Lee Linkon (essay date 1993)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Linkon, Sherry Lee. “Saints, Sufferers, and ‘Strong-Minded Sisters’: Anti-suffrage Rhetoric in Rose Terry Cooke's Fiction.” Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers 10, no. 1 (1993): 31-46.

[In the following essay, Linkon explores the strong female characters in Cooke's fiction—characters that the author used to illustrate what she considered the proper means by which women should exercise power and influence over men.]

In an 1857 story for Harper's, Rose Terry Cooke presented the first of her many arguments against women's rights, beginning a critique of her “strong-minded sisters” that would continue throughout her life. In a long...

(The entire section is 7548 words.)

Eileen Razzari Elrod (essay date 1996)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Elrod, Eileen Razzari. “Truth is Stranger than Non-Fiction: Gender, Religion, and Contradiction in Rose Terry Cooke.” Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers 13, no. 2 (1996): 113-29.

[In the following essay, Elrod discusses the contradictions between Cooke's apparent feminism as revealed in her fiction and her conservative and anti-feminist non-fiction writing.]

Like many of the nineteenth-century New England writers who were her contemporaries, Rose Terry Cooke spent much of her literary career examining the effects of the religious history of her region on the lives of ordinary women and men. In particular, she explored the ways traditional New...

(The entire section is 9724 words.)