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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

3. Gothic Undercurrents

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
- Henry Ward
- Ambrose
- Charles
Brockden Brown
- Emily Dickenson
- Charlotte
Perkins Gilman
- Nathaniel
- Washington
- Herman
- Edgar
Allen Poe
- William
Gilmore Simms
- Suggested
•  Timeline
•  Activities

Authors: Charles Brockden Brown (1771-1810)

Charles Brockden Brown
[7265] Anonymous, Charles Brockden Brown (c. 1925),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-124378].

Charles Brockden Brown Activities
This link leads to artifacts, teaching tips and discussion questions for this author.
Born in Philadelphia to wealthy Quaker parents, Charles Brockden Brown was initially pressured by his family to study law. However, he had no real interest in the profession and would write in the evenings while studying law by day. After he finally admitted to his parents that he felt unable to appear before the bar, he began his writing career in earnest. Brown felt guilty for disappointing his family, but was rewarded with positive responses to his writing from Philadelphia literary circles.

Moving to New York in 1798 (and contracting and surviving yellow fever, an event which later found its way into his writing), Brown cultivated friends who were engaged in the fine arts and read widely. He was prolific in the following years, publishing the novels Wieland (1798), Ormond (1799), Edgar Huntly (1799), and the first part of Arthur Mervyn (1799). Supplementing these projects with work in journalism, Brown founded three different periodicals and became increasingly interested in politics and history.

Brown's gothic romances, which delve into the uncertainties and contradictions of human nature, were among the first important novels published in the United States. Fascinated by states of altered consciousness, such as sleep-walking and religious enthusiasm, he influenced the later psychic excavations of Edgar Allan Poe. He died of tuberculosis at the age of thirty-nine.

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