Maryland Wits and Baltimore Bards
A Literary History with Notes on Washington Writers
In this first comprehensive literary history of Baltimore and Maryland (with notes on Washington writers), Frank R. Shivers, Jr., explores the region's long-overlooked but substantial contribution to American letters. In picture and story, Shivers's lively account ranges from the colonial satire of Ebenezer Cook, to the National Anthem of Francis Scott Key, to the acclaimed works of Poe, Mencken, and Fitzgerald. Here are surprising stories of Frederick Douglass, Walt Whitman, Dashiel Hammett, Gertrude Stein, John Dos Passos, and other writers influenced by Chesapeake culture—an influence still fresh in the work of such contemporary writers as John Barth, Anne Tyler, and Russell Baker. "Nothing," wrote Gertrude Stein, "really can stop anyone living and feeling as they do in Baltimore." As entertaining as it is informative, Maryland Wits and Baltimore Bards shows us why.
About the Author
Frank R. Shivers, Jr. teaches in the School of Continuing Studies at the Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of Bolton Hill: Baltimore Classic and Walking in Baltimore, the latter available from Johns Hopkins.
Local treasure Frank Shivers Jr. wields his prodigious knowledge of Baltimore's past in this first literary history of the region.
Baltimore, Shivers explains, with its courtly charm, crabby cuisine, and proximity to the Chesapeake Bay, lures writers for life, whether its Mencken and Poe or Barry Levinson and John Waters.
Is there a special quality in our Maryland way of life that is conducive to creative writing and to writers?... Frank Shivers has put together a well-researched, carefully documented, and entertaining study that focuses on these and other questions... The range of this study is extensive but well-managed.
Shivers has done the Maryland literary community, and literary historians in general, a tremendous service with this book... His eye for important detail, as well as the interestingly trivial, is more than just commendable. He reveals why Baltimore is called 'Mobtown,' where the expression 'hooker' originated, and where the story of George Washington and the cherry tree can first be found... A book any serious lover of Maryland literary history must read.
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