Arthur, T(imothy). S(hay)


Popular mid-19th century author, famous for 1854 temperance novel, “Ten Nights in a Bar-Room and What I Saw There”

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Autograph ID: 4916
Condition: Very good
Description: “(1809-1885) Popular 19th century American author, most famous for his 1854 temperance novel “Ten Nights in a Bar-Room and What I Saw There”, which helped demonize alcohol in the eyes of the American public. He also authored dozens of stories for Godey's Lady's Book, the most popular antebellum US monthly magazine, and published and for many years edited his own Arthur's Home Magazine, in the Godey's model. He did much to articulate and disseminate the values, beliefs, and habits that defined respectable, decorous middle-class life in antebellum America. Arthur lived as a young adult in Baltimore. By 1830, he appeared in local literary magazines contributing poems under his name and pseudonyms to a gift book called “The Amethyst.” He also participated in an informal literary coterie called “the Seven Stars” (the name from that of the tavern where they met), whose members also included Edgar Allan Poe. In 1838 he co-published “The Baltimore Book”, which included a short tale contributed by Poe called "Siope." In 1840 he wrote a series of newspaper articles on the Washingtonian Temperance Society, formed by working-class artisans and mechanics to counter the life-ruining effects of drink. The articles were widely reprinted and helped fuel the establishment of Washingtonian groups across the country. His newspaper sketches were collected in book form as “Six Nights with the Washingtonians” (1842) which helped establish Arthur in the public eye as associated with the temperance movement. In 1840, he placed his 1st short story in Godey's Lady's Book. Called “Tired of Housekeeping,” about a middle-class family who struggle to supervise recalcitrant cooks and servants. Encouraged by his success, he moved to Philadelphia in 1841 to be near the offices of America’s most popular home magazines. He continued to write tales for Godey’s and other periodicals. Almost yearly he issued collected editions of his tales and published novel-length narratives as well. He also authored children's stories, conduct manuals, a series of state histories, and even an income-tax primer. Interested in publishing a magazine under his own name, he launched the monthly Arthur’s Home Magazine in 1852 that survived until several years after his death. The magazine featured Arthur’s own tales and other original fare, and articles and stories reprinted from other sources, inc. Charles Dickens’ “Hard Times” in 1854. 1854 was also the year Arthur published “Ten Nights in a Bar-Room,” the story of a small-town miller who gives up his trade to open a tavern. The narrator is an infrequent visitor who over the course of several years traces the physical and moral decline of the proprietor, his family, and the town’s citizenry due to alcohol. The novel sold well and a very popular stage version appeared soon after the book. The play remained in continuous production well into the 20th century when at least 2 movie versions were made. So popular was this work that he followed it up with 2 sequels, “Three Years in a Mantrap” (1872) and “The Bar-Rooms at Brantley” (1877). In the 1870s, Arthur helped establish the Franklin Home for Inebriates in Philadelphia. He published more than 150 novels, many of which featured an overtly moral message. While he attained great popularity while alive, he was not well regarded by the era’s literati.

Signed 2 ¼ x 6 ¼ piece from autograph album page, Philadelphia, March 8 1872.”
Type: Signature

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