Ellen Anderson Gholson Glasgow (April 22, 1873 -November 21, 1945) was an American novelist who portrayed the changing world of the contemporary south. Glasgow was born in Richmond, Virginia, of a mother who traced her ancestry to the Cavalier settlers of Tidewater Virginia and a father who descended from the Scotch-Irish of the Shenandoah Valley. She was a writer whose divided background helps explain her ability to combine romantic sensibility with tough-minded realism. For the Virginia Edition of her works, published by Scribner in 1938 and now out of print, she chose 12 of her 18 novels and divided them into two main groups. What she called "novels of character and comedies of manners" consist of five works: The Battle-Ground (1902); The Deliverance (1904); They Stooped to Folly (1929); Virginia (1913); and Barren Ground (1925). The remaining seven novels she grouped under the heading "social history in the form of fiction." Covering almost 100 years of life in the Old Dominion, they are perhaps better read in historical sequence rather than the order in which they were originally published: The Miller of Old Church (1911); The Romantic Comedians (1926); The Voice of the People (1900); The Romance of a Plain Man (1909); Life and Gabriella (1916); The Sheltered Life (1932); and Vein of Iron (1935). The new prefaces that she wrote for each volume of the Virginia Edition form a valuable record of her literary growth and a treatise on novel writing that compares favorably with the prefaces that Henry James wrote for the New York Edition of his works. With the addition of an introduction to the one novel she published subsequently, the Pulitzer Prize-winning In This Our Life (1941), these prefaces were brought together and published as A Certain Measure (1943). The Woman Within (1954), her own story of her inner life, parallels her fiction in its account of a courageous woman who refused to become a victim of the outmoded codes of chivalry and male domination that characterized the Old South of her heritage. She remains a transitional figure of considerable importance in the literary history of America.
Appendices include materials on gender, economics, and marriage; games and dancing; and gambling and the lottery in early urban America. A group of illustrations of early-nineteenth-century Philadelphia is also included.