Shame the Devil: A Novel

Shame the Devil: A Novel

by Debra Brenegan

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781438435879
Publisher: State University of New York Press
Publication date: 07/01/2011
Series: Excelsior Editions
Pages: 353
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Debra Brenegan is Assistant Professor of English and Coordinator of Women’s Studies at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. Her work has been published in CALYX, The Cimarron Review, Southern Women’s Review, Phoebe, and other publications.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

A Note about Sources

1. Sarah Payson Willis, Outskirts of Boston, Saturday, June 29th, 1816

2. Catharine Beecher, Sara Payson Willis, and Harriet Beecher (Stowe), Hartford, Hartford Female Seminary, Sunday, October 3rd, 1830

3. Nathaniel Willis, Boston, Wednesday, April 12th, 1837

4. Julia Willis, Sara Payson Willis, and Charles Eldredge, Boston, Wednesday, April 12th, 1837

5. Sara Payson Willis, Nathaniel Willis, and N. P. Willis, Boston, Wednesday, April 12th, 1837

6. Mary Eldredge, Brighton, Massachusetts, Friday, October 9th, 1846

7. Sara Payson Willis Eldredge, Boston, Friday, December 22nd, 1848

8. Sara Payson Willis Eldredge Farrington, Boston, Thursday, January 17th, 1850

9. Sara Payson Willis Eldredge Farrington and Harriet Jacobs, Boston, Friday, January 10th, 1851

10. Grace Eldredge, Newton, Massachusetts, Wednesday, February 19th, 1851

11. Sara Payson Willis Eldredge Farrington, the Road from Boston to Newton, Saturday, April 26th, 1851

12. Sara Payson Willis Eldredge Farrington, Boston, Friday, June 13th, 1851

13. James Parton, New York, Monday, July 14th, 1851

14. Sara Payson Willis Eldredge Farrington, Boston, Monday, July 14th, 1851

15. Louisa Jacobs, New York, Monday, July 14th, 1851

16. N. P. Willis, New Orleans, Monday, August 16th, 1852

17. Lucy Bumstead (nee Willis), Boston, Monday, August 16th, 1852

18. James Parton, New York City, Monday, August 16th, 1852

19. Sara Payson Willis Eldredge Farrington, Boston, Friday, September 17th, 1852

20. Oliver Dyer, New York, Friday, September 17th, 1852

21. Sara Payson Willis Eldredge Farrington, Boston, Tuesday, February 1st, 1853

22. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Boston, Tuesday, February 1st, 1853

23. Fanny Fern, Boston, Tuesday, February 8th, 1853

24. Grace Eldredge, Newton, Tuesday, February 8th, 1853

25. Oliver Dyer and Fanny Fern, Boston, Thursday, February 10th, 1853

26. Hezekiah Eldredge, Newton, Monday, March 14th, 1853

27. N. P. Willis, Idlewild, New York, Monday, April 18th, 1853

28. James Parton, New York, Monday, June 3rd, 1853

29. Mary Eldredge, Newton, Monday, June 17th, 1853

30. Catharine Beecher, Milwaukee, Monday, June 17th, 1853

31. Fanny Fern, Oliver Dyer, and Richard Willis, Boston, June 17th, 1853

32. Fanny Fern, Boston and Newton, Friday, July 1st, 1853

33. Fanny Fern, New York City, Friday, July 1st, 1853

34. Fanny Fern, New York City, Friday, July 8th, 1853

35. Grace Eldredge, Niagara Falls, Sunday, July 10th, 1953

36. Nathaniel Willis, Boston, Thursday, September 22nd, 1853

37. Ellen (Nelly) Eldredge, New York, Thursday, September 22nd, 1853

38. James Parton, New York, Thursday, September 22nd, 1853

39. Fanny Fern, New York, Tuesday, January 17th, 1854

40. Walt Whitman, Brooklyn, Thursday, February 8th, 1855

41. Fanny Fern and Catharine Beecher, New York, Friday, March 30th, 1855

42. Fanny Fern, Hoboken, New Jersey, Saturday, January 5th, 1856

43. Fanny Fern and Walt Whitman, New York, Friday, March 14th, 1856

44. Grace Eldredge, New York, Sunday, June 8th, 1856

45. James Parton, Brooklyn, Saturday, October 4th, 1856

46. Fanny Fern, Brooklyn, Saturday, October 4th, 1856

47. Walt Whitman, Brooklyn, Saturday, October 4th, 1856

48. Ellen Eldredge, New York, Thursday, May 26th, 1859

49. James Parton, New York, Thursday, May 26th, 1859

50. Fanny Fern, New York, Thursday, May 26th, 1859

51. Grace Eldredge Thomson, New York, Tuesday, September 16th, 1862

52. Fanny Fern and Grace Thomson, New York, Tuesday, December 23rd, 1862

53. Fanny Fern and Effie Thomson, Wednesday, March 20th, 1867

54. James Parton, New York, Saturday, April 11th, 1868

55. Fanny Fern and James Parton, Newport, Monday, August 26th,1872

56. Ellen Eldredge, Cambridge, Tuesday, October 13th, 1872

Epilogue

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Shame the Devil 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
Shame the Devil is based upon the remarkable and true story of 19th century novelist, journalist, and feminist, Fanny Fern, also known as Sara Payson Willis (1811 – 1872). She was born in Portland Maine. Her father, Nathaniel Willis, owned a newspaper. Early on, she chose the pen name of Fanny Fern because it reminded her of her mother as she picked ferns. She attended a boarding school in Hartford Connecticut where she was dubbed as one of te worst behaved but most beloved girls. In 1837 she married Charles Harrington Eldredge, a banker. Fanny bore him three daughters. Tragedy struck eight years later when her eldest daughter died of meningitis and her husband died of typhoid fever. Willis was left nearly destitute. With little help from either her father or her in-laws or her brother, she struggled to support herself and her two surviving daughters. Her father encouraged her to remarry as a means to solve their financial difficulties. So in 1849, she married a merchant by the name of Samuel Farrington. Right from the start, they faced difficulties due to her husband’s intense jealousy. Two years later, she left him, creating a scandal and divorced him. On her own and with two daughters to support, Fanny began to write in earnest, publishing articles. She sent samples of her work under her own name to her brother Nathaniel, who owned a magazine, but he refused them and said her writing was not marketable. She kept her identity hidden as her abusive ex-husband continued to make strife by spreading vicious rumours. But this didn’t stop Fanny. Her work was accepted by newspapers and journals in New York where she wrote a witty column that proved highly popular. In the 1850’s a children’s novel she wrote sold 70,000 copies in its first year, quite an achievement for the times. James Parton, editor for the Home Journal, a magazine owned by Fanny’s brother, published her columns. But when her brother discovered this, he forbade Parton from publishing any more of Fern's work. In protest, Parton resigned. Fanny’s first book, Fern Leaves (1853), was a best seller. It sold 46,000 copies in the first four months, and over 70,000 copies the first year. With her royalties, she bought a house in Brooklyn and lived comfortably well. She soon became the highest paid columnist in the U.S. Fern wrote about her happy first marriage, the poverty she endured after he died and lack of help from male relatives, and her struggle to achieve financial independence as a journalist. She did not hesitate to write unflattering portrayals of those who had treated her uncharitably when she most needed help, including her father, her in-laws, her brother N.P. Willis, and two newspaper editors. When Fern's identity was revealed shortly after the novel's publication, some critics believed it scandalous that she had attacked her own relatives; they decried her lack of filial piety and her want of "womanly gentleness" in such characterizations. Author Nathaniel Hawthorne praised her work. He said, “...enjoyed it a great deal. The woman writes as if the devil was in her, and that is the only condition in which a woman ever writes anything worth reading." Fanny died of cancer in 1872. Author Debra Brenegan did an exceptional job writing this inspiring and engrossing biography. She not only writes with very vivid detail, but she did so in a way that truly made Fanny and her surroundings seem real. It is a poignant story of the
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a novel that makes today's woman think! It's inspiring to know that this woman made such a difference generations before us!
BookishDame on LibraryThing 7 months ago
What a rare and exceptional treasure it is to have a biographical, feminist novel these days. This beautifully covered book is so well researched and written that it behooves one to tread carefully when assuming it can be reviewed with justice. Debra Brenegan leads us back to a time when women tripped what appeared to be the broad line of sensibility, as Miss Austen would say, only if they dared. A time when women kept their own kind in check, when men expected the females in their lives to be concerned with things in particular, and when some appeared to overlook or to be blind to those women who stole across the barriers to proclaim a worthy presence of their own. The Fanny Fern of Ms Brenegan's biographical novel is a woman of this unusual making; that is, one who could bridge that broad line of sensibility, come forth as a wise woman, favored by men and women alike...sought out for conversation by both, and heralded as a social reformer, a writer and journalist of her times. A formidable woman who had opinions she was emboldened to express because of the sufferings she experienced in her own life.It was a bash to women of the Women's Movement in the 1960's and '70's that they were "ugly, unattractive, uptight and asexual sub-women"...explaining why they were interested in being equal to men and working for "women's rights" which were "not wanted or needed by married, and/or attractive women who had men to take care of them." In those days, this bashing was a form of fear, fighting against feminine uprisings and social change.I found it interesting from that perspective, to consider how much worse it might have been in the 1800s, for Fanny Fern to withstand the social outcry against her, who may not have been seen as the most attractive of women. Yet, like a multitude of women who've risen to the surface with great minds, great spirits and great works for peace, freedoms, and the education of others, Ms Fern's beauty was so radiant she drew thousands to her. She was a face and a place of mercy and understanding. With contemporaries such as Alcott, Hawthorne, Walden, Emily Dickinson and Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ms Fern's is a life and world filled with beautiful detail and imagery, as well as with literary importance and excitement.Debra Brenegan is an author who is obviously in love with her subject and did her research with a detailed hand. She is poetic in her delivery and fiery when she needs to be in defining her characters. Though it's meant to be biographical, Ms Brenegan's book reads fully like a feminist novel, reminding me of my studies in women's literature and what a powerful impact it made towards the discovery of my "self" as a woman.If there were one minor adjustment I'd make with "Shame the Devil," it would be that it sometimes became stilted when it read like a history book in parts. This reflects the difficult transition one is asked to make when switching from a biographical study to a novel form, and some of the residual of that lingered.I'm delighted to have this lovely little book on my personal library shelf. I highly recommend it to all of my friends. I recommend it to all who are interested in the exciting times of women of the American Civil War Era notably and finally having a voice in literature, journalism and in the politics of the times.4 stars
MadMooseMama on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Shame The Devil: A Novel is an historical fictional account of columnist Fanny Fern.Sarah Payson Willis is the fifth child of nine, she is flamboyant, pert, sassy and nothing women are supposed to be like in the early 1800's. Her father, Nathanial Willis, was disgusted with his daughter's behaviour and often has the minister pray over her. Her mother, Hannah Parker, is thrilled with her head-strong daughter and often encourages Sarah to be the free spirit she is meant to.Sarah doesn't believe anything is wrong with her, she thinks she is perfect and doesn't understand the frowns of the adults in her life. As she grows older, Sarah drops the "h" from her name, marries for love and has her path set before her.After marrying Charley, they have three daughters, their eldest, Mary Stace, contracts a brain fever and dies. Her parents are devastated and move to the seaside where they can coalesce however, another tragedy strikes and Charley also passes on. Sara is left with two young daughters, a world of grief and no one in her family or that of Charley's will help her.The families join to belittle Sara, they try to steal her children and each day she struggles to put on their table while everyone believes Sara, uppity Sara, has got her just rewards. Her older sister Julia is the only one who seems to understand and offers what solitude she is able.On the day that Sara has to send her oldest surviving daughter, Grace, to live with Sara's in-laws, Sara vows to come for her as soon as she is able. Hezekiah and Mary Eldredge are very pious and religious and they vow to chase the devils from Grace's soul and wipe Sara from her memories forever.Sara and Ellen, her youngest daughter, live off of bread and milk, on good days, live in a drafty living conditions with no source of heat, their clothes are hanging in tatters off their backs and still her family ridicules her and shows her no Christian outpouring of good and kindness.One day, as Sara is walking to go visit Grace, she comes up with an idea that will change their lives forever, and Franny Fern is born. It doesn't take long before Sara/Franny becomes popular in the newspapers and now Sara has the power to right the wrongs that she has hounded her, however, she is a woman in a man's world and keeping on top of her game and keeping her children with her is a fight she always seems to be leading...unless she can change the course of history forever.I thought this was a magnificent read. I would have loved to have known Sarah Willis a.k.a. Franny Fern, she sounds like she would have made a great friend!! I loved her sassy attitude and her faith even in adversity. I loved how she never gave up even when it would have been easy to do. I love how she stood up to the men in her life and put most of them in their places. I enjoyed reading how she and many women like her, at the time, made a difference, enabling for the women of today to have the freedoms they do.I am totally exasperated to learn though, that even after 150 years, many men STILL think like this...truthfully, how small-minded can anyone be to believe women should be seen not heard, should be dutiful, loyal while receiving nothing of the same in return. Men, at one time, were able to put their wives in an insane asylum, just because they COULD!! Disgusting!!I have come to realize, after reading this thought provoking novel, that most men are afraid. They are afraid of almost everything they come in contact with and I believe they try to keep women under their rule is because of this fear. Women, for the most part, are pretty resilient, how would you explain the thousands of years of abuse by men, to continue to procreate, continue to love, continue to feel. It's because women, who also fear, are able, for some reason, to shake it off and get back on the horse and ride again. Women are able to remain passive during times of great turmoil and work on auto-pilot, a trait I don't see in men.I am very thankful
Heavensent1 More than 1 year ago
Shame The Devil: A Novel is an historical fictional account of columnist Fanny Fern. Sarah Payson Willis is the fifth child of nine, she is flamboyant, pert, sassy and nothing women are supposed to be like in the early 1800's. Her father, Nathanial Willis, was disgusted with his daughter's behaviour and often has the minister pray over her. Her mother, Hannah Parker, is thrilled with her head-strong daughter and often encourages Sarah to be the free spirit she is meant to. Sarah doesn't believe anything is wrong with her, she thinks she is perfect and doesn't understand the frowns of the adults in her life. As she grows older, Sarah drops the "h" from her name, marries for love and has her path set before her. After marrying Charley, they have three daughters, their eldest, Mary Stace, contracts a brain fever and dies. Her parents are devastated and move to the seaside where they can coalesce however, another tragedy strikes and Charley also passes on. Sara is left with two young daughters, a world of grief and no one in her family or that of Charley's will help her. The families join to belittle Sara, they try to steal her children and each day she struggles to put on their table while everyone believes Sara, uppity Sara, has got her just rewards. Her older sister Julia is the only one who seems to understand and offers what solitude she is able. On the day that Sara has to send her oldest surviving daughter, Grace, to live with Sara's in-laws, Sara vows to come for her as soon as she is able. Hezekiah and Mary Eldredge are very pious and religious and they vow to chase the devils from Grace's soul and wipe Sara from her memories forever. Sara and Ellen, her youngest daughter, live off of bread and milk, on good days, live in a drafty living conditions with no source of heat, their clothes are hanging in tatters off their backs and still her family ridicules her and shows her no Christian outpouring of good and kindness. One day, as Sara is walking to go visit Grace, she comes up with an idea that will change their lives forever, and Franny Fern is born. It doesn't take long before Sara/Franny becomes popular in the newspapers and now Sara has the power to right the wrongs that she has hounded her, however, she is a woman in a man's world and keeping on top of her game and keeping her children with her is a fight she always seems to be leading...unless she can change the course of history forever. I thought this was a magnificent read. I would have loved to have known Sarah Willis a.k.a. Franny Fern, she sounds like she would have made a great friend!! I loved her sassy attitude and her faith even in adversity. I loved how she never gave up even when it would have been easy to do. I love how she stood up to the men in her life and put most of them in their places. I enjoyed reading how she and many women like her, at the time, made a difference, enabling for the women of today to have the freedoms they do. I am totally exasperated to learn though, that even after 150 years, many men STILL think like this...truthfully, how small-minded can anyone be to believe women should be seen not heard, should be dutiful, loyal while receiving nothing of the same in return. Men, at one time, were able to put their wives in an insane asylum, just because they COULD!! Disgusting!! I have come to realize, after reading this thought provoking novel, that most men are afraid. They are afraid of
FiveAlarmBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Shame the Devil is the journey through the effects of an old fashioned twisted view of religion, where there were consequences for being a woman with opinions, in a time when it was perfectly acceptable to do whatever it took to get a woman to submit and to learn her place, to a reawakening of oneself, where truth, strength and peace are found once again. Remarkably, it is the journey of a notable woman in history, Fanny Fern. While I am a historical fiction fan, I am often leery of books that are based on real life characters because they all too frequently read like a history lesson. There is no dull history lesson here. Debra Brenegan has written a masterful work of literary genius that is not only historically accurate, but also a work of fiction that is extremely readable. Brenegan had my full attention within the first few pages and thereafter, there was never a moment that I wasn't anxiously awaiting each turn of the page. Each character is so beautifully developed that I can not imagine the book without a single one of them. They were easy to relate to on a level that is a rare find in fictional books today. I recommend Shame the Devil by Debra Brenegan to Historical Fiction fans, readers who find women's studies to be of interest and to book club discussion groups. This amazing book screams to be talked about. Really good stuff!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story, told wonderfully, by Debra Brenegan. My guess is this will be picked up by many women's book clubs especially those interested in historical fiction. And, I know there aren't too many men's book clubs out there but our group was lucky enough to get copies of this book and we all read it and enjoyed it very much. I knew nothing about Fanny Fern and my guy friends didn't either. Now I am surprised that I hadn't. But if you want to know something about the most famous columnist of her time (circa Civil War) and someone who was a contemporary of people such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Walt Whitman and Charles Dickens read this novel. Fanny was her generation's version of Howard Cosell; she "told it like it was." And what impact on women's rights and copyright laws! Brenegan did a ton of research and it shows. You won't be disappointed. Enjoy.
frogr More than 1 year ago
An historic novel about a woman we all need to emulate - Fanny Fern. Very independent, hard working, courageous and way before her time. Thank you Fanny. And thank you Debra for introducing her to me. I loved the book. I look forward to more of your books coming out in the future. Keep up the good work!