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July 1998


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"A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
William MacKay <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 1 Jul 1998 10:57:44 -0400
"A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (54 lines)
Thomas Beer was a delightful short story writer, an underrated novelist and
an important biographer. Unfortunately, he was also a very unreliable
historian. His biography of Stephen Crane helped put the novelist on the
critical map, but Crane scholars now agree that it includes some fudging &
confabulation. While gathering the Collected Letters of Stephen Crane, the
editors discovered that not only could none of the letters in Beer's
biography be traced, several of them seemed inconsistent with Crane's
whereabouts & other details of his life. They concluded that Beer seemed to
have had faked them all. [They tell the story, as I remember, in the first
volume of their collection.] Others facets of the Crane biography have also
been disputed.

As far as I know, no one has made similar accusations about The Mauve
Decade, a charming & artful book, but Beer's tale-spinning there is so adept
that one begins to wonder. On the other hand, he did collect good gossip
with real fervor & he was for a time well-connected.

Not much has been written about Beer [years ago, a biography was promised,
but never materialized], but according to Kunitz's Twentieth Century Authors
[title?], he led a problematic life, ending in breakdown.

I hope that helps at least a smidgen.

> ----------
> From:         Emily Leonard[SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent:         Tuesday, June 30, 1998 11:11 PM
> To:   [log in to unmask]
> Subject:      anti-Catholicism in the Gilded Age
> Honored scholars, how do you do.
> I am Emily Leonard, a would-be historical novelist, focusing on the New
> York Irish from 1865 until the First World War. I recently came across the
> following and need help in verifying
> In "The Mauve Decade," Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1926 (Carroll&Graf
> Publishers, Inc. reprint, 1997, Thomas Beer writes:
>         Sensitive Irish Americans in 1894 suffered considerably....
>         In New York, a Committee of females and pastors hunted down
>         an intimate of Grover Cleveland and urged him to secure the
>         presidnet's approval of a bill excluding Catholics from
>         West Point and Annapolis.
> Has anyone ever heard of this incident. Is Thomas Beer considered a
> reliable source of historically valid facts. Other than writing my
> Congresswoman and asking her office to check the records, is there some
> way
> I can verify this statement.
> You suggestions and comments will be deeply appreciated.