William Dean Howells

1837 (Martinsville, Ohio) – 1920 (New York)

Howells is better-known for his talent-spotting and nurturing of new writers than for his own under-appreciated work. His two most important literary relationships were with James and Twain: James (whom he encouraged) was close for over fifty years, and Twain (whom he was influential in getting accepted seriously) for forty, the friendship eventually derailed over their love and hate of tobacco. Holmes (who lived two doors away), Whitman, Thoreau, Hawthorne and Emerson were met when Howells moved as a young man to Boston. Wharton (who became a friend) and Crane were among the many writers he brought to notice.

William Dean Howells knew…