Realists and Romantics & Rebecca Rowena Randall

I feel like I need to start off by reassuring everyone that I’ve found a book to read! Of course, I’m only one chapter in (this I blame on busyness, not my reading motivation), but as I read that chapter, I kept thinking, “I can’t believe I’ve never read this!”

The book in question is Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (Kate Douglas Wiggin), a children’s classic from 1903. I think I managed in my younger years to devour just about every children’s classic the local library held–all the Anne of Green Gables books, The Chronicles of Narnia, every Madelaine L’Engle book they had, all of Andrew Lang’s Coloured Fairy Books, etc., but somehow I missed this one classic sitting on my very own shelves. (Apparently I’ve always been better at reading library books than my own.) I don’t know what the general consensus is regarding this book, but at only one chapter in, I am utterly charmed. Rebecca reminds me somewhat of Anne Shirley, or rather, I should say Anne Shirley reminds me of Rebecca, as this book was published five years before Anne of Green Gables. I don’t know if Montgomery read Wiggin or if the similarities of the characters in the opening chapters are simply coincidence. This may be something to further investigate as I read more of Wiggin’s book.

It seems appropriate as I start this book that I’ve recently finished compiling shortening another of my lists, one containing many of the Victorian Romantic authors. This from the afterword in my edition of Rebecca (by Phyllis Bixler): “The influence of the Romantic movement on children’s classics of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries is nowhere more evident than in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.” (I honestly have no idea why I happened to flip through and read that line, as I usually don’t read afterwards, especially before I’ve actually read the book.) My new list, which I’m referring to as “Realists and Romantics” comes from my traditional comfort zone of reading, American and British authors from the 1800’s—with a couple Irish authors thrown in for good measure.

I have to admit a certain haziness on the exact definitions of eras in literature. There don’t seem to be actual hard edges for eras. One era bleeds into another, an individual author may be influenced by several trends, trends overlap. My overall impression, however, is that the bulk of English-language literature of 1800s is dominated by Romanticism or related trends. (I distinctly remember a section of high-school English on the “Dark Romantics.”) On the other hand, I wouldn’t categorize Austen as a Romantic. I’ll admit to grave ignorance here, but from what best I can tell, Austen, and perhaps some of the other writers of the 1800s wrote in what is termed a more “Realist” style. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong!

The boundaries for this particular list are relatively simple: American/British/Irish authors predominately active in the 1800s. I’ve therefore included works from the early 1900s which were written by already established authors. As this is a rather lengthy list—my comfort era!—I’ve placed it after a break.

Titles which are re-reads are indicated with an *. There are some titles that fit the time-frame I’ve read already which I don’t currently wish to re-read, and have therefore not included (e.g., Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights). And yeah….it’s going to take a while to get through all these!

  1. Edgeworth, Maria: Castle Rackrent (1800)
  2. Austen, Jane: Northanger Abbey (published 1818, written 1798-99)*
  3. Austen, Jane: Sense and Sensibility (1811)*
  4. Austen, Jane: Pride and Prejudice (1813)*
  5. Austen, Jane: Mansfield Park (1814)*
  6. Austen, Jane: Emma (1816)*
  7. Austen, Jane: Persuasion (1818)*
  8. Scott, Sir Walter: Rob Roy (1817)
  9. Scott, Sir Walter: Ivanhoe (1820)
  10. Irving, Washington: The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (1819-20)
  11. Cooper, James Fenimore: Last of the Mohicans (1826)
  12. Dickens, Charles: The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1836-37)
  13. Dickens, Charles: The Adventures of Oliver Twist (1838)
  14. Dickens, Charles: The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1838-39)
  15. Dickens, Charles: The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-41)
  16. Dickens, Charles: David Copperfield (1850)
  17. Dickens, Charles: Bleak House (1853)
  18. Dickens, Charles: Little Dorrit (1855-57)
  19. Dickens, Charles: A Tale of Two Cities (1859)
  20. Dickens, Charles: Great Expectations (1861)*
  21. Dana Jr., Richard Henry:Two Years Before the Mast (1840)
  22. Brontë, Anne: Agnes Grey (1847)
  23. Brontë, Anne: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)
  24. Brontë, Charlotte: Jane Eyre (1847)*
  25. Brontë, Charlotte: Shirley (1849)
  26. Brontë, Charlotte: Villette (1853)*
  27. Hawthorne, Nathaniel: Tales and Sketches (various, TBD) (1837-53)
  28. Hawthorne, Nathaniel: The Scarlet Letter (1850)*
  29. Hawthorne, Nathaniel: The Blithedale Romance (1852)
  30. Hawthorne, Nathaniel: The Marble Faun (1860)
  31. Gaskell, Elizabeth: Mary Barton (1848)
  32. Gaskell, Elizabeth: Cranford (1853)
  33. Gaskell, Elizabeth: Ruth (1853)
  34. Gaskell, Elizabeth: North and South (1855)*
  35. Gaskell, Elizabeth: Sylvia’s Lovers (1863)
  36. Gaskell, Elizabeth: Wives and Daughters (1865)
  37. Melville, Herman: Moby-Dick (1851)
  38. Melville, Herman: The Piazza Tales (1856)
  39. Melville, Herman: Billy Budd (published 1924, written c. 1886-91)
  40. Stowe, Harriet Beecher: Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852)
  41. Trollope, Anthony: The Warden (1855)
  42. Trollope, Anthony: He Knew He Was Right (1869)
  43. Trollope, Anthony: The Way We Live Now (1875)
  44. Eliot, George: Adam Bede (1859)
  45. Eliot, George: The Mill on the Floss (1860)
  46. Eliot, George: Silas Marner (1861)
  47. Eliot, George: Middlemarch (1871-72)
  48. Eliot, George: Daniel Deronda (1876)
  49. Mrs. Oliphant: The Doctor’s Family and other Stories (1861)
  50. Le Fanu, Sheridan: Uncle Silas (1864)
  51. Hardy, Thomas: Under the Greenwood Tree (1872)
  52. Hardy, Thomas: The Return of the Native (1878)
  53. Hardy, Thomas: Far from the Madding Crowd (1874)
  54. Hardy, Thomas: Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891)
  55. Hardy, Thomas: Jude the Obscure (1895)
  56. Twain, Mark: The Adventures of Tome Sawyer (1876)
  57. Twain, Mark: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)*
  58. Twain, Mark: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889)
  59. Twain, Mark: Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894)
  60. James, Henry: The Portrait of a Lady (1881)
  61. James, Henry: What Maisie Knew (1897)
  62. James, Henry: The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Fiction (1878-1908)†
  63. James, Henry: The Wings of the Dove (1902)
  64. James, Henry: The Ambassadors (1903)
  65. Wallace, Lew: Ben-Hur (1880)
  66. Howells, William Dean: A Modern Instance (1882)
  67. Howells, William Dean: The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885)
  68. Stevenson, Robert Louis: Treasure Island (1883)
  69. Stevenson, Robert Louis: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)
  70. Stevenson, Robert Louis: Kidnapped (1886)
  71. Pater, Walter: Marius the Epicurean (1885)
  72. Haggard, H. Rider: King Solomon’s Mines (1885)
  73. Wilde, Oscar: The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)*
  74. Crane, Stephen: The Red Badge of Courage (1895)
  75. Jewett, Sarah Orne: The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896)
  76. Kipling, Rudyard: Captains Courageous (1897)
  77. Kipling, Rudyard: Kim (1901)
  78. Chopin, Kate: The Awakening (1899)*
  79. Chesnutt, Charles W.: Stories, Novels and Essays (1899-1901)

† Includes The Turn of the Screw, Daisy Miller*, Washington Square, The Beast in the Jungle, and The Jolly Corner

2 thoughts on “Realists and Romantics & Rebecca Rowena Randall”

  1. Funny enough, I’ve never heard of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm before. I looked up the summary, and I get what you’re saying about its similarities to Anne of Green Gables. They were both foisted off on people who didn’t want them at first–Anne’s foster parents wanted a boy while Rebecca’s aunts were expecting her older sister. Since this is probably in the public domain, I’m going to try to read it this year. 🙂

    1. I don’t think Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is as well known as the Anne books. I’m not sure I would have ever even heard of it if I hadn’t been given a copy as a gift. I’m not very far in, but I’m enjoying it. I believe it is public domain–I hope you enjoy it!

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