Thomas Nelson Page

1853-1922


Thomas Nelson Page, author of short stories, novels, essays, and poetry, is best known for his role as literary spokesman for the glories of the Old South. Born in 1853 at Oakland, the family plantation in Hanover County, Virginia, Page was only 11 years old when the Civil War ended.  Writing in the plantation genre of John Pendleton Kennedy and others, Page created of the antebellum South a mythical, would-be land of noble gentlemen and ladies, of contented slaves, a society ordered by the laws of chivalry.

 

A descendant of the prominent but no longer wealthy Nelson and Page families (the families had lost everything in the war), and a native of Virginia, Page attended Washington College and later studied at the University of Virginia and received his law degree in 1874.  Page married in 1886, and his wife died two years later. He practiced law in Richmond from 1876 until 1893, when he moved with his second wife, the former Florence Lathrop Field, to Washington. Although Page became active in the social life of the capital and later served six years as ambassador to Italy under Woodrow Wilson, he continued in his writing to depict Virginia and the passing of the old order there. His works, set for the most part in the South, comprised 18 volumes when they were published in a collected edition in 1912.

 

In Ole Virginia (1887) was Page's first collection of short stories treating the antebellum South. Other works dealt with later periods in southern history. For example Red Rock (1898) was a sympathetic portrait of the South during Reconstruction, and John Marvel, Assistant (1909) depicted the New South of the early 20th century. Page was consistently a proponent of the southern way of life, and in such stories as "Marse Chan" in In Ole Virginia his finest sketches were realized. In this story, told by a faithful exslave, of a young southerner who died for the southern cause and who placed duty and honor above all personal gain, Page postulates a kind of heroism that seemed to be missing from modern life. Page's South satisfied the nostalgia of his readers for what might have been - a place where heroic men and women adhered to a code of perfect honor.

 

Thomas Nelson Page died at his Hanover County, Virginia home on November 1, 1922, leaving his last novel, The Red Raiders, unfinished.

 

Bibliography

 

Poems

Ashcake

Uncle Gabe’s White Folks

Poetry

A.C. Gordon and Thomas Nelson Page, Befo' de War (New York: Scribner, 1888) (New York: Scribner, 1901) (New York: Scribner, 1906) (Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1971)

Thomas Nelson Page, Unc' Edinburg a Plantation Echo (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1895) (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1897)

________________, The Coast of Bohemia (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1906)

________________, Pastime Stories. Poems (New York: Scribner, 1906) (Series title: The Novels, Stories, Sketches and Poems, Plantation ed., vol. 10)

Journals & Correspondence

Harriet R. Holman (ed.), North African Journal, 1912; With Letters Along the Way (Miami, Florida: Field Research Projects, 1970)

Henry Field (ed.), On the Nile in 1901 (Miami: Field Research Projects, 1970) (journal written in 1901)

Writings

Thomas Nelson Page, In Ole Virginia; or, Marse Chan, and Other Stories (New York: Scribner, 1887) (Scribner, 1890) (Scribner, 1895) (Scribner, 1920) (Scribner, 1923) (Ridgewood, New Jersey: Gregg Press, 1968) (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1969)

________________, Two Little Confederates (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1888) (C. Scribner's Sons, 1908) (C. Scribner's Sons, 1911)

________________, Among the Camps (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1891)

________________, On Newfound River (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1891) (C. Scribner's Sons, 1906) (novel)

________________, Elsket, and Other Stories (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1891) (Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1969)

________________, Marse Chan; a Tale of old Virginia (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1892) (C. Scribner's Sons, 1897) (C. Scribner's Sons, 1912) [on-line text: In Ole Virginia, or Marse Chan and Other Stories (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1895)(1887)]

_______________, The Old South: Essays and Political (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1892) (C. Scribner's Sons, 1896) (C. Scribner's Sons, 1908) (Chautauqua, New York: Chautauqua Press, 1919) (New York: Haskell House Publishers, 1968)

________________, Meh Lady: A Story of the War (New York: Scribner, 1893) (Scribner, 1904)

________________, The Burial of the Guns (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1894) (New York: Garrett Press, 1969) (novel)

________________, Pastime Stories (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1894) (Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1969)

________________, Polly; a Christmas Recollection (New York: Scribner, 1894) (Scribner, 1897)

________________, The Old Gentleman of the Black Stock (New York: Scribner's, 1897) (Scribner's, 1901)

________________, Social Life in Old Virginia Before the War (New York: Scribner's, 1897) [on-line text] (Scribner's, 1898) (Scribner's, 1910)

________________, Red Rock: A Chronicle of Reconstruction (New York: C. Scribner, 1898) (C. Scribner, 1900) (C. Scribner, 1904) (C. Scribner, 1906) (C. Scribner, 1907) (C. Scribner, 1909) (Ridgewood, New Jersey: Gregg Press, 1967)

________________, Two Prisoners (New York: R. H. Russell, 1898)

________________, Santa Claus's Partner (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1899)

________________, The Old Gentleman of the Black Stock (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1902) (1901)

________________, A Captured Santa Claus (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1902)

________________, Gordon Keith (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1903) (New York: Scribner, 1910) (novel)

________________, Bred in the Bone (New York: Scribner, 1904) (New York: Scribner, 1906)

________________, The Negro: The Southerner's Problem (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1904) (New York: Johnson Reprint Corp., 1970)

________________, The Novels, Stories, Sketches and Poems (New York: Scribner, Plantation ed., 1906-12) (18 vols.)

________________, Under the Crust (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1907)

________________, The Old Dominion; Her Making and Her Manners (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1908) (C. Scribner's Sons, 1914)

________________, Robert E. Lee, the Southerner (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1908)

________________, Tommy Trot's visit to Santa Claus (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1908) (C. Scribner's Sons, 1916)

________________, John Marvel, Assistant (New York: C. Scribner's Sons 1909) (C. Scribner's Sons, 1910)

________________, Robert E. Lee, Man and Soldier (London: T. Werner Laurie, 1909) (New York: Scribner's Sons, 1911)

_______________, Mount Vernon and Its Preservation, 1858-1910 (New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1910) (Knickerbocker Press, 1932)

________________, Two Little Confederates. Among the Camps. Two Prisoners (New York: Scribner, Plantation ed., 1912)

________________, The Land of the Spirit (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1913)

________________, The Stranger's Pew (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1914)

________________, The Shepherd Who Watched By Night (New York: Scribner, 1916)

________________, Italy and the World War (New York: C. Scribners, 1920)

________________, Dante and His Influence (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1922) (Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, 1969)

________________, Washington and Its Romance (New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1923)

________________, The Red Riders (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1924)