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Henry Blake Fuller (b 9 January 1857 – 1929) was an American novelist and short story writer, born in Chicago, Illinois.

Contents

Life and works

Fuller's early works are influenced by the works of Henry James, whose interest in the contrast between American and European ways of life informs both The Chevalier of Pensieri–Vani and The Chatelaine of La Trinité. After 1892, however, his major influence is William Dean Howells. Novels like The Cliff-Dwellers and With the Procession follow Howells in describing American institutions as they are transformed by the economic and demographic changes of the late nineteenth century. The choice of Howells over James is deliberate, and is the subject of one of Fuller's important essays.

He also wrote twelve one-act plays, collected in The Puppet Booth. He was a recognizable celebrity at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. He wrote for various journals, including The Dial, and he provided some editorial assistance to Poetry in its early years.

While he is considered one of the important novelists of Chicago's early years, his own relation to the city was often strained. The scion of one of Chicago's early settler families, he found the increasingly industrial and multicultural nature of the city offputting. His ambivalence is expressed in The Cliff-Dwellers and With the Procession, both of which are set in Chicago. Nevertheless, The Cliff-Dwellers, which is set in a high rise office building, is one of the first novels to treat at length social life in the new, skyscraper environment that was pioneered in Chicago.

His finest achievement, however, is Bertram Cope's Year (1919), a subtle novel about homosexuals in Chicago and a love affair between Cope and Arthur Lemoyne, which ends with Cope turning heterosexual. It puzzled critics and embarrassed his friends. Its recent republication and enthusiastic reviews finally gave it the serious attention it deserves.

Little is known with any certainty about Fuller's private life and relationships, although his journals from his teenage days make it clear he was in love with some dormitory roommates at Allison Classical Academy. At the age of 19 he wrote an imaginary personal advertisement in which he says, "I would pass by twenty beautiful women to look upon a handsome man".

The present-day view from Eagle's Nest Bluff overlooking the Rock River

At the age of 34 he admitted to being in love with an adolescent boy who had blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair. Five years later, Fuller wrote and published a short play, At Saint Judas's, about a homosexual who commits suicide at the wedding of his fomer lover. It is credited with being the first American play dealing explicitly with homosexuality. In 1924 Fuller embarked upon a final affair with a college student named William Shepherd, with whom he went to live in Europe. [1]

Fuller was also one of the founding members of the Eagle's Nest Art Colony in Illinois.

Bibliography

  • The Chevalier of Pensieri–Vani (published anonymously)
  • The Chatelaine of La Trinité (1892)
  • The Cliff-Dwellers (1893)
  • With the Procession (1895)
  • Under the Skylights (1901)
  • Waldo Trench and Others (1908)

Further reading

  • Regnery, Henry. Creative Chicago. Chicago Historical Bookworks: Evanston, Illinois, 1993.

References

  1. ^ Kenneth Scambray, Varied Harvest, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1987

External links

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