Glasgow, Ellen: Vein of Iron
(researched by Laura Tripp)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

Published by Harcourt, Brace, and Company in New York, New York. Copyright 1935 by Ellen Glasgow.

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?

The first American edition is published in black calico-textured cloth with a dust jacket. Source: Phillip Gaskell's "A New Introduction to Bibliography"

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

236 leaves, pp. [10] 1-67 [2] 68-201 [3] 202-224 [3] 225-462 [2]

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?

The first edition is neither edited nor introduced.

6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?

There are no illustrated plates in the first edition. The only marking other than text is an ink sketch on both the front and back lining-papers depicting "The Village of Ironside in Shut Valley." It is unclear to whom the sketch can be credited.

7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available

8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)

Presentation of text: Appears on 5.5" x 8" page Full block of text per page is 4" x 5.75" Vertical margins are approximately 1" Horizontal margins are approximately 1.25" Size of type is 9R Style of type is serif Clear printing and large margins make this book quite easy to read. The overall appearance of the book is remarkable, considering the publication date of 1935. The binding is smooth and in perfect shape. The dust jacket has only afew worn places at the bottom of the spine. There is no type description on the verso of title page or colophon. Source: Phillip Gaskell's "A New Introduction to Bibliography"

9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available

10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)

The text appears on woven, mass machine produced paper with an even, granulated texture. The same paper stock is used throughout the book. Eventhough the paper has become slightly yellow, the pages have withstood time with no apparent staining or foxing. The top and bottom edges are cleanly cut, while the vertical edge of the pages is uncut and rough. Source: E.J. Labarre's "Dictionary and Encyclopedia of Paper and Paper-Making"

11 Description of binding(s)

Dark black, calico-textured cloth binding. Due to the presence of a dust jacket, both the front and back of the binding are plain. Spine has a bright red rectangle with gold-tooled, gilded lettering appearing in the center. Spine: Ellen Glasgow | Vein of Iron | Harcourt, Brace and Co. Source: Phillip Gaskell's "A new Introduction to Bibliography"

12 Transcription of title page

Recto: (red border around page) Vein of Iron | By Ellen Glasgow | "Effort, and expectation, and desire, | And something evermore about to be." | Harcourt, Brace, and Company | New York Verso: Copyright, 1935, by Ellen Glasgow | All rights reserved including | the right to reproduce this book | or portions there of in any form | first edition | Printed in the United States of America | By Quinn and Boden Company, Inc., Rahway, N.J. | Designed by Robert Josephy

13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings

No information on holdings avalible at this time.(1999) Source: Worldcat(virgo and web)

15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

Black dust jacket. Recto: title in large, white, serif font at the top. Small sketch of a house in the middle of the jacket outlined in double-lined gold lines that shoot off towards the corners, making a dimond around the small house. At the bottom, the author's name is in large, orange, serif print. Verso: short bibiography of Glasgow followed by four quotes from various authors praising her work. Front fly-leaf has short biography of Glasgow followed by a summary of the book that continues on the back fly-leaf. Back fly-leaf advertises a series of Old Dominion editions of various Glasgow books, each having a preface written by the author(published by Doubleday, Doran and Co). Stamp of the Taylor Collection on inside of front cover. Page facing title page has an identical red border and lists earlier Glasgow books.

Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History

1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A

Harcourt, Brace, and World New York, 1963 405 p.:18cm Sources:

2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available

3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available

4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition? found thirty-seven copies of the first edition printed by Harcourt, Brace, and Company.

5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

Other Publishers: -J. Cape, 1936 -Scribner, 1938 -Penguin Books, 1946 -Signet Paperback, 1946 -University Press of Virginia, 1995 -Buccaneer Books Incorporated, 1995 Sources:

6 Last date in print?

The novel was last published in 1995 by The University Press of Virginia. Sources: Interanatioal Books in Print UVa Books in Print with Book Reviews (Infotrac)

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)

No information avalible

8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)

By September 29, 1935, 85,000 copies had been sold. By November 24, 1935, 110,000 copies had been sold. Sources: Publishers Weekly

9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)

-A full page advertisement was shared between Glasgow and Anne Morrow Lindbergh in the New York Times Book Review on November 24, 1935. Glasgow's book was said to be "The novel for Christmas." -Another full page ad was placed for Glasgow's novel on September 29, 1935 in the New York Times Book Review. This ad calls the reader to "Read the first page of the outstanding novel of the fall!" The sample of the first page of the novel is followed by five quotes praising Glasgow's writing. -In Publisher's Weekly vol 128, Glasgow's "Finest Novel" is advertised with two other books appearing at the bottom of the ad. This is followed by six positive quotes from literary critics of the time.

10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion


12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A


13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

-Glasgow, Ellen. "Wu chih pu i" Hsiang-kang: Chin jih shih chieh she; 1970. (Chinese) -Glasgow, Ellen. "Dans un coeur pur" Paris: Laffont; 1948. (French) Sources:

14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A


15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A


Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

Born on April 22, 1873, Ellen Glasgow is considered an important figure in saving Southern literature. One of America's most important regional writers, Glasgow was a prominent figure in the early twentieth century literary world. Up until this time, most southern fiction writers were concerned only with glorifyin g the ways of the Old South. Recognizing these portrayals as romanticized and unrealistic, Glasgow sought to expose the restrictions of southern society through satire. Living in Richmond, Virginia practically all of her life, Glasgow was exposed to the social structure of the south from an early age. Ann Gholson and Francis Thomas Glasgow raised their daughter in the manner dictated by their wealthy economical class. Ellen was taught what it meant to be a southern lady and learned the importance of manners and appearance in the social world of her parents. Eventhough she had four older brothers and four older sisters, Ellen felt lonely as a child. Her frequently unhealthy physical condition added to her isolation, which combined with her depression to result in a preoccupation with death. This morbid interest fueled much of her passion for writing. Educated by a private tutor, Glasgow grew to appreciate and was greatly influenced by such social and philosophical writers as Hume, Plato, Jane Austen, Tolstoy, and Thomas Hardy. The Glasgow's large home on One Main Street included a library that Ellen's father kept well stocked with both classic and contemporary works. When she was only eighteen, Ellen wrote her first novel. However, the author destroyed her work because she knew it was unacceptable in her family's social circle for a woman to write fiction. Glasgow published her first novel, The Descendant, in 1897 with Harper Publishing. But it was not until she published Barren Ground in 1925 (Doubleday) that critics began to recognize Glasgow. In this novel, she passionately describes the struggles women are forced to endure. Her ideal heroine, Dorinda Oakley, refuses to feel the guilt society places on her for bearing an illegitimate child and instead uses her wit and intelligence to no only survive, but succeed. This theme of the successful feminist struggle, in which a woman must rely solely on herself, is a central point in many of Glasgow's works. Vein of Iron, published in 1935 (Harcourt) is the other novel for which Glasgow received wide critical acclaim. Glasgow did most of her publishing with Harcourt. Shortly after this work was recognized as one of the years' bestsellers, Glasgow was chosen in 1938 as the sixth woman member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Though Glasgow was a successful writer and received much recognition, she was never a happy individual. She suffered from depression, and attempted suicide in 1918. Her health was always ailing in some way, and as she aged, a series of heart attacks troubled her. Eventhough she was briefly engaged to Henry Anderson, the author never married. Ellen Glasgow died in her sleep in Richmond in 1945, shortly after her fourth heart attack.

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

Contemporary reviews of Glasgow's Vein of Iron are, for the most part, quite complementary. Most critics review this novel in comparison to at least one of her earlier works. The overwhelming conclusion is that she matured as a writer of prose and succeeded in making herself a powerful figure in the literary world. Positive or negative, nearly every review touches on Glasgow's sense of reality. Her earlier novels, specifically Barren Ground and The Sheltered Life, are criticized for having plots that advance unrealistically towards the end. There are few reviews that say the same about Vein of Iron. Many wrote about her improved sense of the Southern life related to the rest of the world. While some critics dismiss her earlier characters as being flat and unrealistic, the majority believe that she has the "more than ordinary skill of creating characters who breathe and walk by themselves" (Walton). Repeatedly addressed is the novel's tone. While it is a rather dark story, Glasgow is praised for her portrayal of human struggle with a purpose. It was feared that she had written another depressing novel with a dark plot that overshadows the story, but this was not the case. Whether reviews focused on praise or criticism of the novel, none were purely negative. Each review found something in the novel's style or narrative that was quite impressive. "Compared, for instance, to The Sheltered Life, it is rather less open and fluent and more channeled and intense."

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

Subsequent criticism of Glasgow's Vein of Iron is notably more harsh than contemporary. Negative reviews focus on Glasgow's depressed and unbelievable characters in unrealistic situations. These critics grouped Vein of Iron with her earlier novels, which many thought were poorly developed. Louis Auchincloss writes that Vein of Iron was simply liked at the time it was published, but has nothing "more than a temporary place in American letters" (Auchincloss, 91). While some see Glasgow's strictly southern upbringing as a helpful tool in honestly portraying the South, critics argue that it takes away from her writing overall because she has such a closed view of the world. Excerpts from negative reviews: "In Vein of Iron, she tried to assert the supremacy of the individual will over all human needs; but the only meaning she could find for such independence was a kind of death-in-life, an essentially escapist existence without comfort, compassion, or joy." -Louis D. Ruben Jr. "The Women Without" p. 44-45 "Upon occasion, this retreat from actuality in Miss Glasgow or in her central characters led to a false estimate of things as they are. For this reason, Miss Glasgow's struggling central characters often succeed because they ought to, not because they convincingly master circumstances?" -Fredrick P.W. McDowell Ellen Glasgow and the Ironic Art of Fiction p.231-232 Critics who praise Vein of Iron recognize the roundness of the characters. Glasgow's earlier works were criticized for characters whose lives were based on idealistic values or survived their harsh lives with humorous irony. It was because of this that her characters were considered unrealistic. However, in Vein of Iron, Glasgow creates characters that experience conflicts but live through them with a sense of unity. There is much less of the displacement and isolation felt by her earlier characters. This slight change in character composition makes a huge impact of the overall novel. Glasgow is also praised for her knowledge of the South and her portrayal of the complex social scene in which the novel takes place. Excerpts from positive reviews: "?during the middle 1930's [five years before Vein of Iron was published] she decided certain realities are too painful to be repelled with humor or double vision. Because irony does not succeed and evasion is, of itself, unsound, the major attitudes that a character in Miss Glasgow's novels may assume toward existence are the sense of conflict and the sense of unity." -J. R. Raper Without Shelter: the Early Career of Ellen Glasgow p.249-250 "Her talents as a craftsman of fiction are manifold: an ability to envision living characters, a sharp sense of the psychological impact of various individualities upon each other, a skill at fusing her characters with scene?" -Fredrick P.W. McDowell Ellen Glasgow and the Ironic Art of Fiction p. 234 Sources: -Louis D. Ruben Jr. "The Texas Quarterly" vol.2, number 3, p.37-48. 1960. -Fredrick P.W. McDowell. Ellen Glasgow and the Ironic Art of Fiction, University of Wisconsin Press, 1960. -Joan Foster Santas. Ellen Glasgow's American Dream, University Press of Virginia,1965. -Louis Auchincloss. "Ellen Glasgow" in his Pioneers & Caretakers: A Study of 9 American Novelists, University of Minnesota Press, 1965. p. 56-91 -J.R. Raper. The Early Career of Ellen Glasgow, Louisiana State University Press, 1971. p.234-253

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

Bestsellers are known for not only their literary merit at the time of publication, but for the unique qualities that make them timeless pieces of work. Ellen Glasgow's Vein of Iron marked an important transition in literary history. Previous to its publication in 1935, most Southern writers focused on the ways and traditions of plantation life in the Old South. The overwhelming success of Maragaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind can be attributed partly to the setting. The novel opens with the young southern belle, Scarlett, sitting in the "cool shade of the porch of Tara, her father's plantation" (Mitchell, 5). This scene depicts typical plantation life in 1861 with nostalga and appealed to many who wanted to return to a similar way of life. These ideals, however, were quickly dying out and were being replaced by more industrial and progressive ways. Glasgow recognized this change in mind set, even in the old fashion town of Richmond, Virginia. Through her writing, Glasgow provided the necessary jump into the changing times. For three main reasons, Glasgow's Vein of Iron became a popular and necessary bestseller. First, the early ninteen-hundreds needed someone to give a fresh view of the world. Her new look at society and humanity put a stop to the repeated and stale works of the Old South. Second, Glasgow empahsizes religion in a way that is unique for the early 1900's. While making religion an important part of life for the Fincastle family, there is no hesitation to question the strict adherence to faith and the value of the overall effect of religion. Finally, Glasgow enjoyed the success of a bestseller because she played the part of a "social historian" (Rubin). She wrote a novel that is not only entertaining, but one that descriptively and colorfully documents "the inhabitants of the state of Virginia in transition form the Civil War to the New Deal" (Rubin). Thus, the novel becomes a historical and social commentary on the early twentieth century. These three characteristics combined are what made Vein of Iron a bestseller. Southern literary works of the 1800's were predominantly from the view of or about the planter aristocrasy. Not much attention was paid to the middle and poor classes of society. Even though she grew up in a wealthy family, Glasgow was aware of and had much contact with the middle class. She felt uncomfortable as a child, even with her many brothers and sisters, and often blamed these feelings on the restricted and demanding social structure which her parents were part of. She loved reading in her father's vast library, but was bored with reading about the same society structure all the time that focused on the wealthy male who had power over both land and people. Vein of Iron centers around the Fincastles, a large family with not much money but an honorable reputation. They live in a modest home set in the Valley of Virginia between The Blue Ridge and Alleghany mountains. Unlike Gone With the Wind, which focuses on the wealthy O'Hara family and their upper class friends, Vein of Iron revolves around a middle class family and also has a mix of characters on other social levels. Toby Waters, "the idiot," and his mother are the outcasts of Ironside, the town where the Fincastles live (Glasgow, 4). The two live in a "hovel perched on the rim of a ravine" and are the targets of much hatred and resentment from the town (Glasgow, 4). Glasgow uses their situation to address the issues of poverty, child abuse, social rejection, and alcoholism. Toby, constantly teased by children at school, is afraid to go home because his mother beats him and sells her "petticoats for moonshine to the people on Lightnin' Ridge" (Glasgow, 4). There is little detail of upper class life in this novel, which is opposite from the trend in the 1930's. Most writers wrote about life from the perspective of the upper class and thought it taboo to give the readers too much detail about life in poverty or the emotions of the middle and lower class. Glasgow emphasizes religion in the lives of the Fincastle family. Ironside was founded by a preacher and Ada's father is the current preacher of the small town. However, religion is constantly on the minds and in the hearts of everyone; it is the window through which they view the world. This slightly odd, due to the fact that Glasgow's "rebellion against convention was rooted in her childhood rejection of her father's 'iron vein of Presbyterianism'" (Wilson). Growing up, Glasgow resented the strict rules that were placed on her reguarding religion. Vein of Iron, however, deals with the presence of religion as a helpful and soothing aspect of life, but one that can also be questioned. The positive side of religion is portrayed mostly by Ada's Grandmother. When upset and physically weakened by Ada's decisions reguarding the man she loves, Grandmother is left to "sit alone," with no one to talk to or discuss her feelings with (Glasgow, 158). Naturally, the old woman turns her head upward and repeats "The Lord has never failed me. I am in the hands of the Lord" (Glasgow, 158). With this verbal repetition of faith, her "equilibrium was restored, faith balanced itself on its throne, [and] a fresh infusion of energy surged through her veins" (Galsgow, 158). These passages lift up religion, but the value of religion is also questioned. Speaking with Mr. Black, her minister, Ada realizes that she does not trust him. He is described, in a negative tone, as having eyes that are "dark and piercing" and a nose that is "long and bony," curved in a beak (Glasgow, 6). As a young girl, still dripping with innocence, Ada describes his "sacred calling" as a "scheme of salvtion" that depended on misery (Glasgow, 8). While this passage contrasts to the positive image of religion above, the two passages together are representative of how Glasgow gives voice to the modern ways of questioning, but does not forget the old ways of blind acceptance. Known for her colorful descriptions of the land and people, Glasgow was known also as a social historian. She effectively documented the changing South. The first pages of Vein of Iron, are completely dedicated to describing the land and the feel of the atmosphere of the Virginia mountains. She obviously wants the reader to smell the fresh air and grass, so as to get the complete feel of her novel and the life in the area.

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