FITHIAN PRESS


NEW LIGHT ON AN INFLUENTIAL
MAN OF LETTERS

A hundred years ago, the American literary community, dominated by Victorian romanticism, was still reeling from the publication of Theodore Dreiser’s shocking first novel Sister Carrie. The novel of course went on to become a pivotal classic in the history of American literature, and Dreiser went on to fame as the herald of new realism in American fiction.

Sister Carrie and the career of Theodore Dreiser might never have taken flight, however, were it not for Dreiser’s closest friend at that time, Arthur Henry. Henry was the one who prodded Dreiser to write fiction in the first place, who encouraged and assisted Dreiser during the creation of his first novel, and who carried on negotiations for Dreiser after Doubleday’s turn-about rejection of the book. Henry’s life also touched those of others, including many of the famous writers and social reformers of his time.

Although the behind-the-scenes role that Arthur Henry played as an associate of Dreiser and others was significant in the history of American letters, it should not be overlooked that Henry was a fine and important writer in his own right. As a young man, he covered the news in Chicago during a period of great labor unrest following the infamous Haymarket bombing. As he matured he built a literary career as a journalist (in Chicago, Toledo, and New York), novelist, memoirist, and playwright, turning out seven books in a variety of genres. His best work is represented by autobiographical back-to-nature books, one of which has recently been reissued in a new edition.

Arthur Henry’s story has long fascinated Dreiser biographers. However, none of them had enough source material to offer a rounded portrait of the man. Now new material has come to light, thanks to Henry’s granddaughter, Maggie Walker, who inherited the extensive writings of the Henry family, including her grandfather’s private papers and unpublished manuscripts, one of which is a revealing autobiographical novel that he was working on at the time of his death. This manuscript, in which Henry examines his life in critical retrospect, adds a new and wholly unexpected dimension to his story and reveals the hidden drama of this influential writer’s life. Maggie Walker and her husband, Mark Walker, have incorporated this important insight into their new book, Dreiser’s ‘Other Self—The Life of Arthur Henry, the first full-length biography of this influential man of American letters.

About the Authors
: Maggie Walker, Arthur Henry’s granddaughter, worked in industrial design and retail advertising before becoming a reporter and city editor with Gannett Newspapers, Westchester County, New York. She later worked as a feature writer for the Annapolis Evening Capital. Mark Walker, onetime editor of a national electrical trade magazine, is author of several books and plays. His published books include a suspense novel, Cassis, Resort to Vengeance (1979) and Maine Roots; Growing up Poor in the Kennebec Valley (1994), which was on the Maine Writers and Publishers Association’s best-seller list in 1994 and 1995. The Walkers recently celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary.


Dreiser's 'Other Self'
The Life of Arthur Henry
by Maggie Walker and Mark Walker
288 pages, paperback, $17.95
ISBN 1-56474-453-1

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