Saturday, December 31, 2022

Gilded Age and Progressive Era Podcast: Five Little Peppers

In what is fast becoming a Christmas tradition, I went on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era Podcast - along with my colleague and co-editor Hilary Emmett - to discuss our new edition of Five Little Peppers. Props to Hilary for the reading!

Saturday, November 12, 2022

UEA Christmas Lectures for Children 2022

Well, it's been a decade since I last gave one of the UEA Christmas Lectures for Children, and I'm doing it again! This time, in the company of my colleague Hilary Emmett. We're going to be exploring what A Child's Christmas in 19th Century America was like, drawing on plenty of my research from the last few years and our children's literature publishing project. Get your free ticket here.

Five Little Peppers: Launch Event

This Wednesday we officially launched Five Little Peppers at the wonderful Norwich bookshop Bookbugs and Dragon Tales. It was great to introduce the book the staff and pupils from Queen's Hill Primary. Get your own copy here.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Five Little Peppers

I'm thrilled that the second book produced in collaboration my co-editor Hilary Emmett, our students, and the UEA Publishing Project, will be published in November. This time, we're breathing new life into Margaret Sidney's Gilded Age bestseller, Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (1882)! As with last year's edition of What Katy Did, students enrolled on our final year children's literature module co-wrote the introduction and were involved in all aspects of the design. Bonus content: this edition also includes two early short stories by Sidney featuring the Pepper children, including the original version of the hard-to-find "Polly Pepper's Chicken Pie", first published in Wide Awake magazine in 1877! 

Order your copy direct from the UEA Publishing Project here.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

BrANCA 2022: Pedagogical Possibilities

Had a great time at BrANCA 2022 discussing our new edition of What Katy Did produced in collaboration with our students and the UEA Publishing Project. Here we are! News about this year's edition coming soon!

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Review: Journal of Southern History

Deep Water got a great review in the Journal of Southern History. Here are some snippets:

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Podcast: Our Missouri


I appeared on the State Historical Society of Missouri's Our Missouri podcast as part of their Water and Waterways series, discussing all things Twain and the Mississippi. Check it out below.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Christmas Past: Media Round-Up

A round-up of publicity for Christmas Past

First, I wrote a blog post for Louisiana State University Press - available here.

And I was a guest on three of my favourite podcasts - Christmas Past, Weird Christmas, and the Gilded Age and Progressive Era! Thanks to all the hosts for having me on. Embedded below!

Plus, Christmas Past was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, here

Thursday, November 25, 2021

What Katy Did: Book Launch

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

Christmas Past: Facebook Live

To mark the release of Christmas Past I gave a talk as past of LSU's Facebook Live Author Series - available here! More updates soon!


Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Deep Water: Review

Deep Water just got a lovely review in the Journal of American History by Gregg Andrews. Available here for those with access - some choice snippets:


Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Comparative American Studies: Following the River

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.  

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Coming soon: Christmas Past: An Anthology of Seasonal Stories from Nineteenth-Century America

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 Biography
More details soon!🎅

Friday, April 02, 2021

Louisiana Anthology Podcast

I also sat down with Bruce Magee, one of the hosts of the Louisiana Anthology Podcast, to discuss plenty of Mississippi River lore, framed around Sam Clemens's visit to Mardi Gras in 1859. It's available here in a variety of formats.

Massolit: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


A while ago I recorded a lecture on Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for Massolit - it's available here for subscribers, with a short free preview for everyone else.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Deep Water: Association of University Presses Design Selection

Some nice news in the midst of everything: Deep Water has just been selected by the Association of University Presses for its amazing design by Michelle Neustrom at Louisiana State University Press in its annual book, jacket and journal show - specifically in the Scholarly Typographic category. More info and other selections here.