Improbable Fiction: The Life of Mary Roberts Rinehart

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University of Pittsburgh Pre, Oct 1, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 308 pages
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The mystery stories and other popular fiction of Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876-1958) brought her wealth and fame, but she was much more than a writer.  She was a well-known American, respected and loved during a time when few women achieved national influence.

Her early life was conventional enough.  Trained as a nurse, she met and married a physician, with whom she had three sons. She was living the stereotypical life of a young matron in Allegheny (now part of Pittsburgh), when her husband's investments evaporated during a stock market crash. She began writing as a means to supplement the family income.

Rinehart became a prolific writer.  In addition to her mysteries, she wrote serious fiction, plays, poems, magazine articles, and editorials. Her regular contributions to the Saturday Evening Post were immensely popular and helped the magazine mold middle-class taste and manners.

In this fascinating account of a woman ahead of her time, Cohn illuminates the tensions that pervaded Rinehart's life.  Rinehart's commercial success conflicted with her domestic roles of wife and mother; she often endured periods of illness and depression but also pursued adventure, including a job as the first woman war correspondent at the Belgian front during World War I. Throughout, Cohn presents Rinehart as a woman of many complexities whose zest for life always prevailed.

 

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Contents

1 The Street 18761895
3
2 The Doctors Wife 18961907
24
3 Successes 19081911
43
4 Sewickley 19111914
60
5 The Great Adventure Summer 1914Spring 1915
77
6 A Public Person 19151917
92
7 The Rineharts at War 19171918
108
8 The Bat 19191921
130
10 Gesture Toward Truth 19271928 and Beyond
167
11 Endings 19291932
184
12 The Writer 19331939
202
13 The End of the Adventure 19401958
225
Notes
247
A Chronological Bibliography
267
Index
289
Back Cover
294

9 The Public and the Critics 19221927
148

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About the author (2005)

Jan Cohn was G. Keith Funston Professor of American Literature and American Studies at Trinity College and the author of four other books, including Creating America (1989).

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