The Lawton Girl – Harold Frederic
In “The Lawton Girl” Mr. Harold Frederic has given us another highly realistic and instructive study of life in a modern American manufacturing town. The perils that beset the path of those who have riches, the temptations in the way of those who would be rich, the problems arising before society in the matter of providing ways for the moral elevation and intellectual enlightenment of the laboring classes, these are all involved in the story, but it is the heroism, the self-devotion, and the final tragic triumph of one poor girl which form the central motive of a discerning and impressive book. Mr. Frederic has a wonderful command of his material. The whole atmosphere of Thessaly in its rude, new-world incompleteness, its narrow perspective, its tremendous possibilities, is admirably suggested, for Mr. Frederic is an uncompromising artist, and he spares no line, however ungraceful, that will serve to make the picture complete. What one admires most in the work of Mr. Frederic is the straightforward,earnest, sincere manner in which he goes to the end in view. Undertaking to depict certain phases of life for his readers, he allows full play to every light and shadow. Realism with him does not mean a seeking out of the low and bestial, or even a preference for what is hard and unlovely; it simply means that he will make no deliberate selection in defiance of nature’s own truths.
The Lawton Girl.
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Biography of Harold Frederic (from Wikipedia):
Frederic was born in Utica, New York, to Presbyterian parents. After his father was killed in a railroad accident when Frederic was 18 months old, the boy was raised primarily by his mother. He finished school at age fifteen, and soon began work as a photographer. For four years he was a photographic touch-up artist in his hometown and in Boston. In 1875, he began work as a proofreader for the newspaper The Utica Herald and then The Utica Daily Observer. Frederic later became a reporter. Frederic married Grace Green Williams in 1877, and they had five children together. By 1882 he was editor of the newspaper The Albany Evening Journal in the state capital.
In 1884 Frederic went to live in England as London correspondent of the New York Times, and worked at this position for the rest of his life. He brought his family to London by 1889. Afterward he met Kate Lyon, who became his mistress. Frederic and Lyon established a second household, living openly together; and they had three illegitimate children.
Frederic wrote several early stories, but it was not until he published Illumination (1896), better known by its American title, The Damnation of Theron Ware; followed by Gloria Mundi (1898), that his talent as a novelist was fully realized. Critic Jonathan Yardley called Damnation “a minor classic of realism”.
Kate Lyon was a Christian Scientist.Frederic suffered a stroke in 1898. After his death, she was tried on charges of manslaughter brought by his wife Grace Frederic, and acquitted at trial.
(The text of the last section was taken from a Wikipedia entry and is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)
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