Pub. Date:
Prometheus Books
Rachel Dyer / Edition 1

Rachel Dyer / Edition 1

by John Neal
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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781573920490
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Publication date: 01/28/1996
Series: Literary Classics Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 1
Product dimensions: 5.52(w) x 8.51(h) x 0.65(d)

About the Author

John Neal was born in Portland, Maine, of Quaker parentage, on August 25, 1793. Trained as as lawyer, Neal throughout his life defended such radical causes as female suffrage, abolition of slavery, and capital punishment reform. In 1823, Neal left a promising law practice in Baltimore to travel to England, where he lived for the next four years. There he became acquainted with Jeremy Bentham and the Utilitarians. He also published a series of essays in Blackwood's Magazine reviewing American authors, partly as a rebuttal to England's dismissal of American literature. 

It was in Blackwood's that Neal published a short story that he would revise and expand as the novel Rachel Dyer. While a practicing lawyer, Neal had already published six novels and had gained a reputation as an astute literary critic. Rachel Dyer, published in 1828 and considered his best work, is loosely based on the events surrounding the trial for witchcraft of the seventeenth-century New England preacher George Burroughs. The Salem witch trials, and the choice of a Quaker heroine, Rachel Dyer, gave Neal the opportunity to expose a shameful period of religious repression as well as to indict English law and procedure in colonial America. Using a fiery preacher and a Quaker woman as his protagonists, Neal highlights the real issues of the trials, which are injustice and bigotry--a theme that would be taken up more than a century later in Arthur Miller's The Crucible.

John Neal died in Portland, Maine, on June 20, 1876. 

Neal's other works include the novels Keep Cool (1817), Logan (1822), Seventy-Six (1823), The Down-Easters (1833), and True Womanhood (1859), the play Our Ephraim (1835), and several tales and short stories.

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