Title: The Living Female Writers of the South
Author: Tardy, Mary
Publication date: Philadelphia, 1872
Library: University of Virginia, Alderman Library
Call number: PS551 .T3 1872
Submitted by: Maggie Whalen
Book Traces @ UVA recently happened upon this 1872 edition of Mary T. Tardy’s The Living Female Writers of the South in the UVA Library Collection.
A bookplate reveals that the text came to UVA through the books of William Cabell Rives (1793-1868).
As the title suggests, the book contains the biographies of southern female authors alive in the 19th century. Its pages are entirely unmarked, save for a few noteworthy annotations on the three-page biography entitled “Mrs. William C. Rives.”
Above the section’s title, a hand has left the following note: “Lord Byron says, ‘Tis pleasant, sure, to find one’s name in print.’ My surprise was quite equal to my pleasure in finding my name among those of the illustrious ladies who appear here. It is but just to say that this notice was not contributed to the volume by any member of my own family, and that the authorship is a mystery both to them and to me. JPR….” (436).
Judith Page Rives (1802-1882), wife of William C. Rives, describes the surprise and honor she feels at finding her biography in Tardy’s text. The content and tone of the note suggest that it is not entirely self-reflective, but also directed at any reader who might happen upon the book in the future.
In the biography that follows, Rives has made a few corrections to the text. She adjusts the date of France’s July Revolution from 1820 to 1830. She corrects the spelling of her daughter’s name, Amélie (chosen for her by her godmother, the Queen of France), directly in the text and then transcribes it in the margins for clarity. Finally, she changes the title incorrectly attributed to her second book from “Home and Abroad” to “Home and the World.”
Aside from these minor adjustments, Rives does not interfere with the anonymous biographer’s account of her life, suggesting, perhaps, its accuracy. The notice describes Rives as “a faithful mother” of six and a “most useful helpmeet to her husband,” who served twice as United States Minister to France and once as a Senator from Virginia (438). She is further characterized as “a prominent and yet ever beneficent leader in society,” most notably in her native Albemarle County (438). There, she and her family resided in a vast, historic estate called Castle Hill (on the market now for $11.5 million) and mingled with the likes of Madison and Jefferson. Finally, Rives’s biographer describes her as “an author of more than ordinary ability and popularity” (438).
Among Judith Rives’s literary achievements are two books: Souvenirs of a Residence in Europe (1842) and Home and the World (1857). The biography quotes from a review contemporary to the publication of Souvenirs, saying: “This book is distinguished throughout for its moral and elevated tone. Its style, which perhaps in some instances may be rather luxuriant, is generally chaste, fluent, and graceful” (437). According to Jane Censer, author of The Reconstruction of White Southern Womanhood, much of Rives’s work was nonfiction, based on her travels abroad and her life at Castle Hill. Censer also notes that many of the women included in Tardy’s Female Writers of the South came from “well-to-do” Southern families and published a single article, poem, or novel, often with a local printer (214). A number of these women “published so little or in such obscure journals that the modern researcher can find almost none of their printed efforts” (214). Judith Rives is certainly a slight break from the “authors” Censer describes, having published Souvenirs with a Philadelphia publishing house and Home and the World with a publisher based in London. A single copy of Rives’s Tales and Souvenirs of a Residence in Europe (below) is available in the UVA Library circulating collection. Several copies of Souvenirs and Home and the World are held in UVA’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.
For further examples of volumes owned/annotated by members of the Rives family, see the related post on Amelie Rives Troubetzkoy’s copy of The Plays of William Shakespeare.
For more on Book Traces @ UVA, visit our blog at https://booktraces.library.virginia.edu .
“The Cabell Family.” Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. University of Virginia Library, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
Censer, Jane Turner. The Reconstruction of White Southern Womanhood, 1865-1895. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2003. Google Books. Google. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
Hatch, Peter J. “The Garden and Its People.” “A Rich Spot of Earth”: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello. N.p.: Yale UP, 2012. 33. Google Books. Google. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
Lay, K. Edward. “The Georgian Period.” The Architecture of Jefferson Country: Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia. Charlottesville: U of Virginia, 2000. 60-61. Google Books. Google. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
Lucey, Donna M. “Patron’s Choice: Sex, Celebrity and Scandal in the Amélie Rives Chanler Troubetzkoy Papers.” Notes from Under Grounds. University of Virginia Library: Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections, 23 Aug. 2013. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
Prose, Francine. “Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous”. The Washington Post. Web. 30 Jul, 2006.
Rives, Amélie. Barbara Dering. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott company, 1893.
Shakespeare, William, et al. The Plays of William Shakespeare. New ed. London: Printed for F. C. and J. Rivington; [etc., etc.], 1823.
Tardy, Mary T. The Living Female Writers of the South. Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen & Haffelfinger, 1872.
Varon, Elizabeth R. “We Mean to Be Counted”: White Women and Politics in Antebellum Virginia. N.p.: U of North Carolina, 2000. Google Books. Google. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
Weeks, Lyman Horace. “George Lockhart Rives.” Prominent Families of New York. New York: Historical, 1897. 478. Google Books. Google. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.