Alice in Jamesland: The Story of Alice Howe Gibbens James by Susan E. Gunter

By Susan E. Gunter

Alice in Jamesland, the 1st biography of Alice Howe Gibbens James—wife of the psychologist and thinker William James, and sister-in-law of novelist Henry James—was made attainable through the rediscovery of hundreds and hundreds of her letters and papers regarded as destroyed within the Sixties. Encompassing ecu commute, Civil warfare profiteering, suicide, a stormy courtship, s?ances, psychedelic mushrooms, the loss of life of a kid, and a permanent love tale, Alice in Jamesland is a portrait of a nineteenth-century upper-middle-class marriage, advised usually via Alice’s personal letters and made all of the extra dynamic due to her position within the James family members.  Susan E. Gunter positions Alice as a lens by which to view the relatives, as a perceptive observer aware of wisdom of relationships to which these open air the James relations weren't. She additionally portrays Alice because the cohesive issue that held the Jameses jointly, bridging the space among brothers William and Henry and performing because the good heart for a hugely talented yet eccentric relations. An idealistic, severe younger lady, Alice used to be uniquely fitted to subscribe to this extended family, bringing mental soundness and unshakeable own conviction to her union with the Jameses. Her life’s tale presents a desirable view of 1 of America’s most crucial highbrow dynasties and provides new insights into the lives of nineteenth-century girls. (20090611)

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49 “I dearly love to go where I can dance and hear music. ”50 By the time Alice was sixteen she had become interested in specific young men, and they were interested in her. Despite her shyness and sobriety she had beaux. Perhaps that very shyness added to her charm. Her first boyfriend was her Boston cousin Frederick Hammond Gibbens, the son of Dr. Gibbens’s half-brother Samuel Hammond Gibbens. ,+ Fred kissed Alice. 51 It was not long before Alice’s interest in young men and theirs in her began to disturb her mother.

The Gibbens women managed reasonably well during Daniel’s absence. A daguerreotype of the three Gibbens daughters taken during this time shows Alice as a pretty girl with classic features, her dark hair pulled tidily behind her head. She remained a talented student in both academic and musical studies. Now her mother could afford to give her extra singing and dancing lessons. Both Eliza and Daniel Gibbens were avid readers, so their daughters grew up valuing books. Alice read Chaucer, Milton, Washington Irving, and New England historian William Prescott.

Beacon Hill had become an enclave of old Bostonian families, while the nouveau riche took up the Back Bay. 22 These schools were located in brick Federal-style row buildings, with shuttered windows and doors displaying brass door knockers. 24 Teaching in or running a private school was one of the few respectable ways that nineteenth-century women could earn money, so they fought hard to attract and keep pupils. -&, though the trend was deplored in some quarters, more than half the teachers in the United States were women.

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