Kelroy, a nearly-forgotten 1812 novel by Rebecca Rush, combines the refinement of the novel of manners with the Gothic novel’s hidden evil to tell the story of the star-crossed lovers Emily Hammond and the romantic Kelroy, whose romance is doomed by the machinations of Emily’s mother. Set in the elite world of Philadelphia’s Atlantic Rim society, Kelroy transcends the genre of sentimental romance to expose the financial pressures that motivate Mrs. Hammond’s gambles. As she sacrifices her daughter to maintain the appearance of urbane wealth, Mrs. Hammond emerges as one of the most compellingly detestable figures in early American literature.
Appendices include materials on gender, economics, and marriage; games and dancing; and gambling and the lottery in early urban America. A group of illustrations of early-nineteenth-century Philadelphia is also included.
“Betsy Klimasmith’s richly informed edition of Rebecca Rush’s Kelroy will go far toward restoring the novel to its rightful place as one of the most accomplished of early American novels. Situating Rush’s work in the broad field of transatlantic culture, Klimasmith’s introduction recreates the daily life of the Early Republic, immersing the reader in the fraught contest for security and status shaping urban experience. In its portrait of the sociopathic Mrs. Hammond, Kelroy provides an unforgettable account of that culture’s moral flaws, the subtle violence of the drawing room, and the voracity of the Atlantic world. Extensive appendices capture the period through excerpts from sentimental novels, sermons on gambling—even notes on dancing etiquette. Professor Klimasmith’s remarkable edition offers a vital bridge between that lost world of cosmopolitan striving and our own.” — Joseph Fichtelberg, Hofstra University
“This much-needed edition brings an important early American novel by a woman author back into print for new audiences and sets out a fresh way to interpret its significance. Betsy Klimasmith’s accessible and engaging introduction explains how the novel’s Philadelphian characters participate in the urbane social rituals and economic speculations characterizing cosmopolitan centers of the Atlantic rim. The novel’s depiction of a mother’s shocking machinations to ensure her daughters’ and her own economic stability through marriage is placed alongside illuminating contextual documents relating to Philadelphia’s urban development and attitudes toward courtship, marriage, gambling, and lotteries. The edition demonstrates the acuteness both of Rebecca Rush’s analysis of gender and economic dynamics in the early-nineteenth-century Atlantic world and of Kelroy’s significance in inaugurating a tradition of urban fiction in American literature.” — Theresa Gaul, Texas Christian University
“The Broadview Press version of Kelroy represents another stellar addition to its growing catalog of scholarly editions of hard-to-find texts with feminist or environmental perspectives. The introduction by Betsy Klimasmith offers a rigorous intellectual challenge to upper-division and graduate students. In addition to contextualizing the author and the work, Klimasmith raises a series of research questions for students to ponder as they move forward to read the novel. What makes this Broadview version so valuable for apprentice literary scholars is the series of seventeen supplementary readings … [which] supply a starting point for productive class discussion as well as potential class presentations or seminar papers.” — Ann Beebe, University of Texas at Tyler, Early American Literature
“Klimasmith’s version … adds something new by discussing how the text’s emphasis on marriage and seduction is also informed by its concern with city life, sociability, and transatlanticism. Her introduction is particularly useful for explaining Kelroy’s cultural context, both as a narrative in conversation with other seduction novels such as Susanna Rowson’s Charlotte Temple and Charles Brockden Brown’s Ormond, and as a groundbreaking text that showcases the ‘powerful but understated forces that move the cosmopolitan Philadelphia society [Rush] chronicles, from the unwritten rules of polite conversation to the deathly reverberations of swallowed pride’ … Kelroy questions, revises, and reverses seduction tropes while exposing the polite and often sordid details of urban society. This text is a well- edited, intriguing, and welcome addition to its genre.” — Kacy Tillman, Legacy