Monday, August 12, 2019

Olive Branch notice of The Confidence-Man

Richard E. Winslow III found and transcribed this item in "Contemporary Notice of Melville at Home and Abroad," Melville Society Extracts Number 106, September 1996, page 9. The favorable notice of The Confidence-Man in the Boston Olive Branch is worth another look, especially in view of Mary A. Denison's editorial work for the Olive Branch and later The Sea (1859-60). As shown in the previous post, extant copies of THE SEA in the American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodicals Collection: Series 4 all include the name of Herman Melville on the front-page list of Special Contributors.
From The Boston Olive Branch, April 11, 1857:
THE CONFIDENCE MAN: His Masquerade. By Herman Melville, Author of "Piazza Tales," "Omoo," "Typee," &c. &c. New York: Dix, Edwards & Co. 
All of Melville's works are characterized by originality; and "The Confidence Man" also abounds in passages of genuine humor, and healthful sarcasm. It is a capital book, well conceived, well written, and published in a handsome duodecimo volume of about four hundred pages. We cordially recommend it to the attention of our readers. A. Williams & Co. have it. 
“THE CONFIDENCE MAN: Masquerade.” Boston Olive Branch, vol. 22, no. 15, Apr. 1857, p. 003. EBSCOhost, 
Then edited by Erasmus Addison Norris, son of founder Thomas F. Norris. Patricia Okker in Our Sister Editors (University of Georgia Press, 1995; paperback 2008) credits Mary A. Denison as "Co-Editor" of the Boston Olive Branch. Mrs. Denison's tenure evidently resumed in 1856; she is listed as "assistant editor" in The Boston Directory for the Year 1852, when the paper was edited by Thomas F. Norris. From Arthur's Home Magazine, Volume 7 (February 1856) page 145:

For the past year, this gifted lady has been residing at Florence, N. J., with her husband. But, she has recently removed to Boston, and is now permanently engaged as the sole editor of the Ladies' Enterprise, and assistant editor of the Olive Branch....
Boston city directories confirm Mary A. Denison's role as Assistant Editor of the Olive Branch in 1856-7.

The 1857 Complete Business Directory of Boston names E. A. Norris as Editor, and "Mrs. Mary A. Denison" as "Assistant Ed." The younger Norris and Mrs. Denison also collaborated on Ladies' Enterprise, "a paper issued under the management of the Olive Branch Company" according to Martha Louise Rayne in What Can a Woman Do (Detroit, 1887), page 35.

When the notice of Melville's Confidence-Man appeared on April 11, 1857, the Olive Branch had recently been acquired by John H. Sleeper & Co. and was called The Boston Olive Branch.

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