Anne Hampton Brewster papers
Held at: Library Company of Philadelphia [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Library Company of Philadelphia. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Anne Hampton Brewster (1818-1892) was an American novelist, journalist and foreign correspondent. She defied familial and social conventions by converting to Catholicism, suing her brother for her share of their mother’s estate, emigrating to Rome, supporting herself financially, and not marrying. Brewster preferred an independent life and supported herself as a writer. After 1868, she lived in Rome, Italy and wrote articles about Italian art, architecture, archaeology, political events and social gossip for numerous American newspapers. Brewster continued to write until her death, publishing three novels, seven pieces of nonfiction, fifty-two short stories, and four poems, along with her many newspaper articles.
Anne Hampton Brewster was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 29, 1818 to Maria Hampton and Francis Enoch Brewster. She had one older brother, Benjamin Harris Brewster, who became an accomplished civil lawyer and served as Attorney General of the United States during Chester A. Arthur’s presidency. Anne’s father abandoned the family in 1834, to live with his mistress and their two sons. He provided minimal support to Anne and her mother, forcing them to rely heavily on Benjamin. As a result, Anne found herself managing her brother’s household. Anne maintained an ambivalent relationship with her brother throughout her life.
In fact, according to author Denise M. Larrabee, Brewster was also ambivalent about her place in the world as a woman, finding it difficult to reconcile her desire for independence and her inclination to write with her own Victorian values. Over the course of her life, however, independence became her predominant desire, one she ultimately achieved through writing.
According to Larrabee, this ambivalence was displayed in her use of a pseudonym, Enna Duval, at the start of her writing career. Between 1845 and 1849, Brewster published at least twenty-two short stories. All her protagonists were women, and the stories shared a common theme: “Marriage brings happiness only if one marries for love, not financial security,” (Larrabee, p. 11). In 1849, she published her first book, a novella titled Spirit Sculpture, and her first poem, “New Year Meditation,” was published in Graham’s Magazine. After the publication of “New Year Meditation,” she was hired by Graham’s as an editor, a post she held until 1851.
It was after Anne’s father died in 1854 that she began her efforts for financial independence in earnest. Maria Hampton Brewster, her mother, died the year before, a tremendous personal loss for Anne. Maria left Anne her entire estate, per an understanding with her husband that stated Maria could dispose of her pre-marriage assets as she saw fit. However, Anne’s father reneged on the agreement, and left his entire estate, including Maria Hampton Brewster’s assets, to his two illegitimate sons. Anne’s brother, Benjamin, eventually convinced his half brothers to share the inheritance. Benjamin, however, retained control of Anne’s share. Completely dissatisfied with this arrangement, Anne took her brother to court. They battled in court for years; Anne eventually lost and Benjamin retained control of her inheritance.
Despite these legal issues, the 1850s proved a successful and exciting decade for Brewster. To begin with, between 1851 and 1857, she published four short stories. Then in 1857, leaving the matter of her lawsuit in the hands of a friend and lawyer, Charles F. Thomas, Brewster traveled to Italy and Switzerland. In Europe, she spent her time reading, writing, and studying French, German, and Italian. She returned to America in August of 1858, settled in Bridgeton, New Jersey, and supported herself by writing and teaching music and French. In 1859, Brewster wrote and published numerous short stories in Harper’s Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, "Peterson’s Magazine", Dwight’s Journal of Music and The Knickerbocker. She also published the novel Compensation. By this time, she had more confidence in her writing and abandoned use of her pseudonym. In 1866, she published her second novel, St. Martin’s Summer.
In 1868, Brewster returned to Italy, where she would stay for the rest of her life. To help support herself in Rome, Anne wrote weekly or monthly articles about Italian art, architecture, archaeology, political events and social gossip for American newspapers. Most notably, she wrote for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin and Boston Daily Advertiser. Her newspaper articles gained attention, and she became prominent in artistic circles in Rome. She hosted a weekly salon where she entertained other famous writers and musicians of the day, and she developed close relationships with many of them.
Brewster was able to fully support herself in Italy, though she was not without financial worries. Income generated from her inheritance fluctuated from year to year, and in some years she needed to write more to compensate. Then, in the 1880s, she began to lose her newspaper engagements. Journalism in America was changing, and her contributions as well as her writing style were becoming antiquated. Her financial situation forced her to move to Sienna, Italy, where it was significantly less expensive to live. Though she missed Rome, she remained in affordable Sienna, still valuing her independence above all else. While there, she published one last article in the magazine Cosmopolitan, about her life in Sienna. She died in 1892.
Larrabee, Denise M. Anne Hampton Brewster: 19th Century Author and “Social Outlaw”. Philadelphia: Library Company of Philadelphia, 1992.
For a more detailed description of Anne Hampton Brewster’s life and this collection, Larrabee's entire article is available through Google books at: http://tinyurl.com/23oycvg
The Anne Hampton Brewster papers dates from 1777 to 1892, with the majority of the materials dating from 1845 to 1892. The materials primarily consist of diaries, journals, commonplace books, correspondence, newspaper clippings, notes about her writings and drafts of her writings. The materials document Anne Hampton Brewster’s personal life with friends and family, as well as her professional life as a journalist and writer.
The papers are divided into thirteen series: “Personal correspondence,” “Diaries and journals,” “Commonplace books,” “Copybooks,” “Drafts of articles, literature and nonfiction,” “Miscellaneous personal papers and ephemera,” “Printed publications and newspaper articles,” “Manuscripts and printed materials of authors,” “Correspondence collection,” “Newspaper clippings,” “Autograph collection,” “Mary Howell collection of correspondence with Anne Hampton Brewster” and “Carpenter correspondence.”
The series “Personal correspondence” consists of incoming letters and notes, and two outgoing letters, all dating from 1857 to 1882. They are arranged in alphabetical order according to the correspondent’s last name, with the exception of two folders at the end of the series, consisting of unsorted materials labeled “Miscellaneous correspondence.” The correspondence includes letters from friends and colleagues, including painter and poet Thomas Buchanan Read; author Amelia Edwards; poet Joaquin Miller; and editor, poet and sculptor William Wetmore Story. There are also letters from other notable individuals, including archaeologist Rodolfo Lanciani, Confederate soldier and Florida senator William Wing Loring, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and publisher Joshua B. Lippincott. The letters evidence the exchange of artistic ideas between Anne Hampton Brewster and her friends and colleagues as well as their friendship. Visiting cards are attached to many of the letters, some of which are annotated.
The series “Diaries and journals” contains twenty-five diaries and journals and one fragment of a journal, all dating from 1845 to 1892. They are arranged in chronological order and there are no gaps in the date span. The diaries and journals offer a look into Anne Hampton Brewster’s life, opinions, and feelings. They reveal information about her relationship with her mother and brother, her relationship with actress Charlotte Cushman, her conversion to Catholicism and relationship with god. Also included in this series are various loose newspaper clippings, poems, drawings and visiting cards, which were originally found within the pages of the diaries. The series “Commonplace books” dates from 1845 to 1892 and consists of seventy volumes and two fragments of volumes. The volumes are arranged in chronological order and there are no gaps in the date span. In her commonplace books, Brewster recorded cooking recipes, financial information, quotations, notes for articles, poetry and newspaper clippings. Entries pertain to a number of different topics, such as history, Rome, the Pope and archeology. Like her diaries, Brewster kept loose newspaper clippings, poems, drawings and visiting cards within the pages of her commonplace books. Those materials, though they have been removed from the pages of the books, are also housed in the series.
The series “Copybooks” dates from circa 1844, and from 1869 to 1888. The copybooks contain handwritten copies of Anne Hampton Brewster’s articles printed in various publications. The copybooks are arranged in alphabetical order according to newspaper or publication. Copies of articles written for newspapers such as the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, Daily Evening Telegraph (Philadelphia), Boston Daily Advertiser, and Chicago Daily News are heavily represented.
The series “Drafts of articles, literature and nonfiction” dates from 1856 to 1889. It includes handwritten drafts of Anne Hampton Brewster’s published and unpublished works of fiction, nonfiction, a poem, translations, newspaper articles, notes and other drafts. The works are arranged in this order and they are arranged alphabetically within those groups. In particular, there is a draft for Brewster’s nonfiction work, Christina of Sweden; her fictional, The Magic Gate of the Villa Palombara; and portions of her book, Saint Martin’s Summer. The series also includes writings recollecting Brewster’s voyage to Europe in 1868. Much of the work, both fiction and nonfiction, deals with Rome and Europe.
The series “Miscellaneous personal papers and ephemera” dates from 1850 to 1882, although many materials in the series are undated. The series consists of thirty-one folders, mostly containing single items, which relate to papers found elsewhere in the collection. As such, all researchers are advised to review this series in any search. Included are various visiting cards, poems and poem fragments, some newspaper clippings, handwritten lists of books and various other materials related to religion and Rome. The folders are arranged in alphabetical order according to folder title.
The “Printed publications and newspaper articles” series includes newspaper clippings and articles written by Anne Hampton Brewster that were published between 1853 and 1888. The first seven articles are arranged in alphabetical order by title and are filed individually. The headings “Foreign correspondence” and “Newspaper clippings” follow and are arranged generally in chronological order (papers within files are NOT in chronological order). Under “Foreign correspondence” are articles dealing solely with Brewster’s career as an American correspondent in Rome. Under “Newspaper clippings” there are filed works by Brewster, but there are also a few articles from other authors. For a related series, see “Newspaper clippings,” which contains articles by Brewster and other authors that she saved. The “Manuscripts and printed materials of other authors” series consists of sixteen items that include copies of works, manuscripts, and signed poems of other authors, many with whom Brewster was affiliated. Authors represented include painter and poet Thomas Buchanan Read and poet Joaquin Miller. For related material on these individuals, researchers should also review series “Personal correspondence,” “Diaries and journals,” and “Correspondence collection.” The items date from 1869 to 1886 and are arranged in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name.
The “Correspondence collection” series dates from 1791 to 1892; there are also undated materials. The series contains twenty-two letters, which Brewster collected. The letters are arranged in alphabetical order according to last name of the person who wrote the letter. The letters include correspondence with poet-painter Thomas Buchanan Read, poet Joaquin Miller and others. Of interest within the series is a signed copy of a letter from George Washington to James Madison.
The series “Newspaper clippings” contains hundreds of articles written by Anne Hampton Brewster and others, published in various American, French and Italian newspapers from 1835 to 1890. The articles are primarily about Rome, European social life, European politics and religion. One folder contains newspaper clippings about the death of Brewster’s brother, Benjamin Harris Brewster. The articles are arranged in chronological order by folder; clippings are not arranged within folders. For related materials regarding Anne Hampton Brewster’s writings, see also “Printed publications and newspaper articles.”
The series “Autograph collection” dates from 1777 to 1872, and includes items collected by Anne Hampton Brewster from notable people and historical events. There is correspondence, locks of hair from notable individuals’ heads, stamps from the Confederate states, currency from the Continental and Confederate states, a draft of the first section of the Emancipation Proclamation and papers relating to the purchase of this draft. The papers, which were at one time bound into a volume owned by Brewster, are now removed from the volume and individually foldered. They are arranged in what was most likely the order in which they were originally bound, which has no discernable order. There is also an autograph album filed at the end of the series.
The series “Mary Howell collection of correspondence with Anne Hampton Brewster” contains 138 letters dating from 1854 to 1868 that were saved by Mary Howell from Anne Hampton Brewster. The letters mostly pertain to Brewster’s life in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or Bridgeton, New Jersey. The two women, both originally from Philadelphia, were close friends. Their correspondence reflects this friendship, including many intimate discussions regarding abolitionists, love, men, politics, race and careers. The letters detail Brewster’s intimate relationships with actress Charlotte Cushman and Mary Howell. They also discuss her mother’s death and her mixed emotions about living with her brother. The last letter in this series, “Letter to Howell, Mary from Daniels, C.J.” was included in the collection but appears unrelated to Anne Hampton Brewster. The series “Carpenter correspondence” was included with the accession of the “Mary Howell collection of correspondence with Anne Hampton Brewster.” The letters date from 1872 to 1888 and include correspondence between Harriet Odin Dorr Carpenter (“Kitty”) and her husband James Edward Carpenter, and a letter from Louis H. Carpenter to Harriet Odin Dorr Carpenter. They were included because Anne Hampton Brewster, while living in Rancocas, New Jersey, where the Carpenters lived, mentioned the Carpenters in her letters.
The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
This collection was minimally processed in 2009-2011, as part of an experimental project conducted under the auspices of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries to help eliminate processing backlog in Philadelphia repositories. A minimally processed collection is one processed at a less intensive rate than traditionally thought necessary to make a collection ready for use by researchers. When citing sources from this collection, researchers are advised to defer to folder titles provided in the finding aid rather than those provided on the physical folder.
Employing processing strategies outlined in Mark Greene's and Dennis Meissner's 2005 article, More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Processing Approaches to Deal With Late 20th-Century Collections, the project team tested the limits of minimal processing on collections of all types and ages, in 23 Philadelphia area repositories. A primary goal of the project, the team processed at an average rate of 2-3 hours per linear foot of records, a fraction of the time ordinarily reserved for the arrangement and description of collections. Among other time saving strategies, the project team did not extensively review the content of the collections, replace acidic folders or complete any preservation work.
- Brewster, Anne M. H., (Anne Maria Hampton), 1819-1892
- Brewster, Benjamin Harris, 1816-1888
- Cushman, Charlotte, 1816-1876
- D'Annunzio, Gabriele, 1863-1938
- Duval, Enna, 1819-1892
- Lanciani, Rodolfo Amedeo, 1847-1929
- Miller, Joaquin, 1837-1913
- Read, Thomas Buchanan, 1822-1872
- Library Company of Philadelphia
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Finding aid prepared by Megan Atkinson and Christiana Dobrzynski Grippe.
- Finding Aid Date
- The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use, on deposit at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107. For access, please contact the Historical Society at 215-732-6200 or visit http://www.hsp.org.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the Library Company of Philadelphia with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.