Reuben and Rachel
or, A Tale of Old Times
  • Publication Date: February 18, 2009
  • ISBN: 9781551118390 / 1551118394
  • 420 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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Reuben and Rachel

or, A Tale of Old Times

  • Publication Date: February 18, 2009
  • ISBN: 9781551118390 / 1551118394
  • 420 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Banner reading Teaching the survey? Learn more about The Broadview Anthology of American Literature, with covers of the available volumes

Susanna Haswell Rowson, a popular and prolific writer, actress, and educator in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, had a truly transatlantic life and career, moving twice from England to America and publishing extensively in both countries. A transatlantic sensibility informs her fictionalized “history” of America, Reuben and Rachel, which traces ten generations of an extended family, beginning with the marriage of Christopher Columbus’s son to a native Peruvian princess, moving through the Tudor succession crises and the colonial settlement of New England, and ending with the title characters, who leave England for America, renounce titles of nobility, and consider their children “true-born Americans.” In Rowson’s representation, the American character derives from fusion and hybridity, the results of intermarriage across racial, religious and national lives.


“Wrongly neglected for decades in favor of Rowson’s better-known Charlotte Temple, Reuben and Rachel is a fascinating story of ten generations of Christopher Columbus’s descendants, who experience colonization and captivity, seduction and sedition, and reframe American history as a richly complicated series of exchanges with unpredictable and unsettling results for national mythology. All readers interested in the transnational and interracial constructions of U.S. nationhood, in the expansion and shrinking of female agency, or in the various genres that comprise Reuben and Rachel will recognize the significant contribution Joseph F. Bartolomeo has made by bringing this captivating novel back into print and by highlighting its historical and literary importance with lucid notes, rich topical appendices, and a smart, well-crafted introduction that brings the novel into contemporary critical discussions with admirable clarity and insight.” — Christopher Castiglia, Pennsylvania State University

“This edition of Rowson’s Reuben and Rachel is a most welcome resource for anyone seeking to understand how an eighteenth-century feminist conceived of gender roles and women’s rights in the context of Enlightenment discourse about individual liberty. It will be of equal interest to those interested in understanding how a transatlantic writer fashioned a Columbus myth suited to the particular cultural needs of an early American republic in search of a national identity. Joseph F. Bartolomeo’s introduction, notes, and appendices help the reader to more fully appreciate the significance of Rowson’s work in both transatlantic and early American contexts.” — Michael Householder, Southern Methodist University



Susanna Haswell Rowson:A Brief Chronology

A Note on the Text

Reuben and Rachel

Appendix A: Historical Fiction

  1. Thomas Leland,Advertisement for Longsword, Earl of Salisbury (1762)
  2. Sophia Lee,Advertisement for The Recess (1786)
  3. From Clara Reeve, Preface to Memoirs of Sir Roger de Clarendon (1793)
  4. Reviews of The Recess
    1. From The Critical Review (1783)
    2. From The Monthly Review (1786)
  5. Review of The Castle of Mowbray (1788)
  6. Review of The Countess of Hennebon (1789)
  7. From a Review of Earl Strongbow (1790)
  8. From a Review of Memoirs of Sir Roger de Clarendon
  9. (1794)

Appendix B:Women, History, and Pedagogy

  1. From Judith Sargent Murray, The Gleaner (1798)
  2. From Susanna Rowson,“Outline of Universal History” (1811)
  3. From Susanna Rowson,“Sketches of Female Biography” (1811)

Appendix C: Columbus and America

  1. From Philip Freneau,The Pictures of Columbus (1788)
  2. From Joel Barlow, The Vision of Columbus (1787)
  3. From Susanna Rowson,“Rise and Progress of Navigation” (1811)

Appendix D:The Cobbett-Rowson Controversy

  1. From William Cobbett, A Kick for a Bite (1795)
  2. From John Swanwick, A Rub from Snub (1795)
  3. From Susanna Rowson, Preface to Trials of the Human Heart (1795)

Select Bibliography

Joseph F. Bartolomeo is Professor of English and Chair of the English Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.