Imagination on Fire: The Literary Career of Alice Muriel Williamson


Rex, Richard


Richard Rex retired from the University of Utah. He is the author of a collection of Chaucer essays titled The Sins of Madame Eglentyne, as well as Alice Muriel Williamson: The Secret History of an American-English Author and The Literary Career of W. B. Trites (Academica Press). He lives with his wife, Ines, on the Olympic Peninsula, in Port Angeles, Washington.

Among the most popular novels in the early decades of the twentieth century were those published by Alice Muriel Williamson, whose novels were frequently attributed on their title pages to “C. N. and A. M. Williamson.” Although it is now known that “A. M.” never wrote any fiction by “C. N.” – her husband, Charles Norris Williamson, – the view erroneously persists that the married couple were joint authors. Preceding her fame as a novelist, Alice wrote a series of sensational stories that appeared serially in journals in the 1890s. So fertile was her imagination that she was able to supply her publisher, Alfred Harmsworth, with weekly installments for as many as seven serials concurrently (one for each day of the week), a feat probably unmatched in the history of fiction. As a novelist, the creative fervor of her stories ensured a popularity as great as or greater than that enjoyed by any of her contemporaries. Although particularly renowned for her travel romances, she was a literary polymath adept in a wide variety of genres, often published anonymously or pseudonymously, such as her sensational exposé of German war plans on the eve of World War I, What I Found Out in the House of a German Prince (1915). Purporting to be “by an American-English Governess,” it was so realistic that it was accepted as a true account and published serially in the Fortnightly Review. The missing chapters of her tumultuous life in America, revealed for the first time in Richard Rex’s riveting study, unveil the history of her multivalent careers as actress, journalist, traveler, and author of fiction. Readers revisiting her stories—many ideated from her own adventurous and romantic life—will find them remarkably relevant and offering an intense human interest dimension no less intriguing today than when they were first published.

Literature, Social Science, History, American Literature, Twentieth-Century Literatures, American Studies, Alice Muriel Williamson
Release Date: 
March 15, 2024
9781680533118 Hardcover
Trim Size: 

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