I’ve spent the better part of the last few months finishing a chapter on the early American novelist Charles Brockden Brown for the forthcoming Cambridge History of the American Novel (not to be confused with the Cambridge History of American Literature, the multivolume project Cyrus had a hand in producing).
Working on this piece reminded me again of something I was struck by while writing my dissertation (later revised as Republic of Intellect): that most critics and biographers have treated Brown as a Philadelphia writer, even though the majority of his best-known works — his gothic novels Wieland, Ormond, Edgar Huntly, and Arthur Mervyn — as well as his first magazine venture, The Monthly Magazine and American Review, were produced (if not always published) in New York. Brown may have come from a Philly Quaker background, that is, but he stands as an early example of an American writer who came to New York to launch his career. (Warning: the prior sentence risks anachronism, since New York was by no means established as the center of American publishing in the 1790s.)
Brown’s first book, the philosophical dialogue