Charles Brockden Brown (2053 words)

Stephen Shapiro (University of Warwick)
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Charles Brockden Brown was one of the first U.S.-born American authors to attempt a career as a writer of fiction. Having come of intellectual age in the 1790s, amidst the atmosphere of European revolutions and radical campaigns for social liberation, Brown’s fiction uses the gothic themes of madness, murder, sexual violence, and disease epidemics as metaphors for the social illnesses that prevent the emergence of a democratic society based on rationality, enlightenment skepticism, and equal rights for women and non-whites. Growing up with a Quaker background, Brown supported the Society of Friends’ call for the abolition of slavery, in a time long before this anti-racist position achieved anything close to mainstream approval in …

Citation: Shapiro, Stephen. "Charles Brockden Brown". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 12 April 2006 [, accessed 05 December 2020.]

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