Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Realism and the Profession of Authorship

Thompson, Graham



Keith Newlin


This chapter examines tensions between authorship and publishing in the era of American literary realism. The publishing industry changed with the emergence of literary agents, the growing financial significance of magazines and syndication, and the increasingly influential role of publishing-house editors. All were signs of a centralizing and marketizing publishing system flexible enough to withstand changes in dominant literary genres, tastes, and fashions. With examples from the careers of well- and lesser-known realists—William Dean Howells, Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Constance Fenimore Woolson, Charles Chesnutt—authorship remained stubbornly immune to professionalization, in part because writing is better considered as a craft than as a profession and in part because the practices creating authorship’s marketization did not require its professionalization.


Thompson, G. (2019). Realism and the Profession of Authorship. In K. Newlin (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of American Literary Realism (301-320). Oxford University Press (OUP).

Online Publication Date Aug 13, 2019
Publication Date Sep 1, 2019
Deposit Date Sep 9, 2019
Publisher Oxford University Press (OUP)
Pages 301-320
Book Title The Oxford Handbook of American Literary Realism
Chapter Number 16
ISBN 9780190642891
Public URL
Publisher URL