Critics and general readers highly regarded the poetry and prose of Nathaniel Parker Willis (1806–1867) during the “American Renaissance” of creative literature in the decades before the Civil War. As an editor and frequent contributor to one of the young nation’s most successful and elegant literary magazines, The New-York Mirror, Willis achieved an international reputation for his witty and worldly tales and letters.
This new edition collects outstanding examples of Willis’s short fiction written at the peak of his abilities. These tales of adventure embellish and improve Willis’s own experience as a bachelor adventurer during the 1830s, relating, for example, the comical to harrowing experience of American stagecoach and international sea travel of the era. Several tales of courtship and romance, set at Saratoga and other resort towns, show the charm and wit that made Willis so popular with nineteenth-century readers. Good examples of Willis’s horror stories, written in a style that we associate today with Edgar Allan Poe, can also be found in this essential collection.
This scholarly edition of important short fiction by N. P. Willis includes a general introduction as well as many short essays describing literary and historical contexts that provide information for the contemporary reader.