Over the past year I've been working on a very special book project: along with my colleague Hilary Emmett, students from our final year module on nineteenth century children's literature, designer Emily Benton, and UEA's Boiler House Press we've been busy producing a new edition of Susan Coolidge's beloved book for children, What Katy Did. 2022 is its 150th anniversary, so this is timely on a number of levels! Working collaboratively on this new critical edition - the first of its kind - has been a wonderful experience and I'm looking forward to talking more about the genesis and development of the project at our book launch on November 30th at 5pm. You can register for the event, for free, here. And you pre-order your copy here (or here on amazon).
Thursday, October 21, 2021
Monday, August 09, 2021
Belatedly, my Readex article on Ralph Keeler was included in this free ebook - Using Digital Newspapers for Biographical Research, Volume 1.
Wednesday, June 30, 2021
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
I've guest edited a Special Issue of Comparative American Studies dedicated to rivers! Available here for those with institutional subscriptions. Some great work by some brilliant young scholars. Also includes my own essay on Joseph and Elizabeth Robins Pennell's account of a summer on the Thames. That's available here.
Saturday, April 24, 2021
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Coming in September from Louisiana State University Press! Already available for preorder on Amazon. Here's the official blurb:
As the modern celebration of Christmas took shape across the nineteenth century, American writers gave it new meaning in the pages of countless books and magazines. Now, for the first time, this rich anthology brings together some of the most significant of those seasonal stories to retell a forgotten tale of Christmases past.
From the authors who helped define a national literary culture, to the popular sentimentalists who negotiated Christmas’s position at the center of family life, to the realists who looked to reshape American letters in the wake of the Civil War, and beyond: all varieties of American writers turned to Christmas as an inevitable and potent subject during this deeply formative period in the history of American literature. In Christmas Past, Thomas Ruys Smith brings together a diverse range of voices to showcase the many ways in which Christmas was imagined across the nineteenth century, offering images that echo down to the present. The introduction that frames the anthology provides a new literary history of Christmas, contextualizing the selections and making clear the links both between them and to the wider trajectory of American literature.
And here is advance praise from some of the giants of Christmas commentary:
Christmas Past is an invaluable contribution to not just to the study of Christmas stories but to the history of nineteenth-century American literature. — Gerry Bowler, author of The World Encyclopedia of Christmas and Santa Claus: A Biography
Christmas Past, with its lucid introduction, is a lovely and broad-ranging collection of nineteenth-century Christmas stories that ably illuminates the ways in which literary imaginations inspired and guided the creation of the 'old-fashioned' American Christmas. — Penne L. Restad, author of Christmas in America: A History
An eclectic and engrossing group of Christmas tales, vignettes, and reflections from America's deep nineteenth-century literary well. . . . There is something for everybody in this collection. — Robert E. May, author of Yuletide in Dixie: Slavery, Christmas, and Southern Memory
An important contribution to the story of the American Christmas. Smith casts a wider net to include new and different voices from those most often contained in Christmas anthologies. — Tara Moore, author of Victorian Christmas in Print
Everyone believes that their own Christmas traditions are the 'real' ones, the ones that others can only palely imitate. Now, with Thomas Ruys Smith's Christmas Past, we can see that all Christmases are a series of overlapping circles of customs, beliefs, habits and stories. A work of scholarship, and also intensive poetry, Christmas Past gives us our own pasts back, and opens a path to exploring new futures. — Judith Flanders, author of Christmas: A BiographyMore details soon!🎅