Swindler, Spy, Rebel: The Confidence Woman in Nineteenth-Century America

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One would not expect a police officer to describe a criminal as "remarkable," "well worth knowing," or "excellent." Yet some did when their quarry was a confidence woman. Blackmailer, swindler, or pickpocket: the confidence woman could take any form. Regardless of their different motives and tactics, confidence women have much in common, for they have long been misrepresented in American literature and culture. In Swindler, Spy, Rebel: The Confidence Woman in Nineteenth-Century America, Kathleen De Grave ...
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1995 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. 270 p. Audience: General/trade. Hardcover in dust jacket, Fine/Fine Condition (Brand new book still in publisher's shrinkwrap! ), ... Backroom. Read more Show Less

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Overview

One would not expect a police officer to describe a criminal as "remarkable," "well worth knowing," or "excellent." Yet some did when their quarry was a confidence woman. Blackmailer, swindler, or pickpocket: the confidence woman could take any form. Regardless of their different motives and tactics, confidence women have much in common, for they have long been misrepresented in American literature and culture. In Swindler, Spy, Rebel: The Confidence Woman in Nineteenth-Century America, Kathleen De Grave redresses the exaggerations and distortions by examining how the line between fact and fiction blurs. Drawing from a variety of sources, such as memoirs, diaries, detective reports, newspaper accounts, and sociological studies written during the period, De Grave first presents a historical context. By comparing the exploits of such women as "Chicago May" Churchill, "Big Bertha" Heyman, and Ellen Peck to those of fictional women who used the same strategies in noncriminal situations, De Grave broadens the definition of the confidence woman beyond criminality to include adventuresses, soldiers/spies, and "gold diggers." Next, she relates how the confidence woman appears in autobiographies and in fiction. She further expands her argument to include the narrative devices of nineteenth-century women writers who used a kind of confidence game as a way to lure their readers into the text.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826210050
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/1995
  • Pages: 270

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