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Thomas Nelson Page

(1853 - 1922)

Thomas Nelson Page was an American writer and lawyer who embodied the Old South tradition in his works. Born at the cusp of the Civil War in Hanover County, Virginia, Page's writing presented a romanticized view of Southern life, filled with depictions of decaying plantations and the noble struggles of aristocratic families. His sentimental and often nostalgic portrayals were instrumental in shaping the myth of the "Lost Cause," reflecting his belief in a South that was gallant and dignified despite its social and economic challenges.

Page gained widespread popularity with his collection of short stories entitled "In Ole Virginia" (1887), which included his most famous work, "Marse Chan." This tale, like many of his writings, used African-American dialect and characters, which by contemporary standards can be seen as reinforcing racial stereotypes. Despite this, during his time, he was a respected figure and even ventured into diplomatic service when he was appointed as the U.S. ambassador to Italy by President Woodrow Wilson, serving from 1913 to 1919.

Page attended Washington College and the University of Virginia, where he studied law, eventually setting up practice in Richmond. His literary legacy, while reflective of a particular historical worldview, provides valuable insights into the culture and issues of the post-Civil War South.

Short Stories member since February 2024