The Paris Review
14th May 2020
Feminize Your Canon: Fanny Fern
In 1854, one of America’s most popular newspaper columnists, the pseudonymous Fanny Fern, published “Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of The Present Time,” an autobiographical novel so thinly veiled as to be downright scandalous. In a preface, Fern announced that her book was “entirely at variance with all set rules for novel-writing,” eschewing an intricate plot, elaborate descriptions, and cliff-hanging suspense. Instead, the author likened herself to a casual visitor, dropping by unannounced with gossip to share—and, clearly, some scores to settle.