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Howe, Julia Ward

World's Own, The.

Book

Julia Ward Howe's Censored Play
Inscribed To Edwin Booth,
American Actor And Brother Of John Wilkes
Howe, Julia Ward. The World's Own. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1857.
Small 8vo.; yellow endpapers; green cloth; covers lightly rubbed, head and heel lightly frayed; a pretty copy. In a specially made cloth box.
First and only edition of Howe's second book, a play; preceded by Passion Flowers (1854), an anonymous collection of poetry. With 12 pages of publisher's ads bound-in at rear, dated April 1857. The World's Own is apparently a reworked version of Leonora, Howe's 1857 play which was "condemned as immoral and closed after one week"; in it, "the heroine...unable to kill the lover who abandons her, kills herself instead" (FCLE, pp. 544-5). A presentation copy, an extraordinary 19th-century association, inscribed by Howe to the preeminent American actor Edwin Booth: To the Hamlet of last evening, the author of this play, with cordial recognition of his genius, and its high promise. April 28th 1857. S. Boston. With Booth's ownership stamp on the front pastedown.
Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910), writer, lecturer, clubwoman, suffrage leader, and social reformer, was born in New York City. A writer and life-long feminist, she is most remembered for the pro-Union poem "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Howe was in constant conflict with the male-dominated literary establishment--both theatrical producers who refused to back her controversial plays and publishers who were unwilling to print her more political work. Her feminist inclinations also caused strife with her husband, who was mortified at the publicity surrounding the censorship of Leonora. After 1868, Howe virtually abandoned her literary career and devoted herself to woman's suffrage. She lectured nationally on women's issues, lobbied for women's legal rights, and founded several groups, including the New England Women's Club, the American Woman Suffrage Association, and the Association for the Advancement of Women.
Edwin Booth was born in Maryland in 1833. The second son of Junious Brutus Booth, he made his theatrical debut in 1849 as Tressel to his father's Richard III. Booth became famous as the first commercially and critically acclaimed American actor, the first popular actor in the modern sense of the word. He was best known for his Shakespearean roles; his portrayal of Hamlet was especially lauded. Booth's stage career ended in April, 1865, when his brother John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln in Ford's Theatre.
According to noted feminist scholar Claire Buck, many of Julia Ward Howe's writings are extremely scarce: "Only some of her extensive periodical publications were collected [i.e., published] and her plays and much of the non-fiction are out-of-print and unavailable (BGWL, p. 647).
A remarkable survival, linking two legendary names in the mythology of the American Civil War.
(#3146)

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