John Neal bigraphy, stories - Critics

John Neal : biography

August 25, 1793 - June 20, 1876

John Neal (August 25, 1793 – June 20, 1876), was most notably an author and art/literary critic. He was also a man of diverse talents and objectives, many of which were pioneering in his day. For example, he is credited as being the first American author to employ colloquialism in his writing, breaking with more formal traditions in literature.Martin, Harold C. “The Colloquial Tradition in the Novel: John Neal.” The New England Quarterly 32.4 (1959): 455-475. JSTOR. Langsam Library, Cincinnati, OH. 22 May 2008 However, he was also undisciplined and often rambling, so despite its period significance, his literary work has drifted into obscurity. He was also an early women's rights advocate, prohibitionist, temperance advocate, opponent of dueling, accomplished lawyer, boxer, and architect.


Boyhood, young adulthood, and early business

Born in a yellow frame house on Free Street at the corner of South Street in Falmouth (now Portland, Maine) of Quaker parents, he attended school until the age of twelve whereupon he entered into business."John Neal" [Obituary] Daily Eastern Argus [Portland, Maine] 21 June 1876: 3 For nine years he made a living as haberdasher, clerk, dry goods dealer, traveling penmanship tutor, and miniature artist, among other things, before entering law school in Baltimore, Maryland in 1815. Neal supported himself while in school by writing for local periodicals, and he helped found a literary society, The Delphian Club. Neal wrote for and eventually edited the journal the Delphians created—a short-lived but influential and admired monthly journal titled The Portico. p.19 In short time, he turned to novels and poetry, publishing some six novels and two epic poems (under the pseudonymous 'clubicular' name, "Jehu O'Cataract," a nickname given to him by the Delphians because of his rapid production). He was proud of the speed with which he threw off his volumes, often taking only a week to finish an entire novel. He wrote during this stage in his life that, "I shall write, as others drink, for exhilaration." p.3 Neal left for England in late 1823. p. xxiii

English stint

John Neal's time in London (1824–1827) was a mission: to win recognition in Europe of American literature and demystify the land of his birth in the eyes of the British literary elite. He attempted to fulfill this mission through his work for Blackwood's Magazine, and one novel, published in England: Brother Jonathan, or the New Englanders. He wrote in his column for Blackwood's about American life and critiqued American authors. After a falling out with the editor of Blackwood's, Neal wrote for several other leading periodicals including the Westminster Review, and as part of a debating society, he met Jeremy Bentham, who invited Neal to live with him in London. After a short trip to Paris, Neal returned to Portland, Maine.

Life back in Portland

Category:1876 deaths Category:American poets Category:19th-century American novelists Category:American male novelists Category:Writers from Maine Category:People from Portland, Maine Category:American art critics Category:American literary critics

tr:John Neal

Partial bibliography

  • Keep Cool, 1817
  • Battle of Niagara, 1818
  • Goldau, or, the Maniac Helper, 1818
  • Otho; a Tragedy in Five Acts, 1819
  • Logan, 1822
  • Seventy-six, 1823
  • Randolph, 1823
  • Errata, 1823
  • Brother Jonathan, or the New Englanders, 1825
  • Rachel Dyer, 1828
  • Authorship, a Tale, 1830
  • The Down-Easters, 1833
  • One Word More, 1854
  • True Womanhood. A Tale, 1859
  • Wandering Recollections of a Somewhat Busy Life, 1869
  • Great Mysteries and Little Plagues, 1870
  • Portland Illustrated, 1874
Living octopus

Living octopus

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