VIRGINIA W. JOHNSON AND HER
A Literary History in Two Parts.
ENGLISH "DAISY MILLER."
The Literary World (Boston), 3 June 1882: 184.
Virginia Wales Johnson, Miss Virginia W. Johnson, who first attracted the attention of the Literary World by her fine story of The Neptune Vase, has been abroad for seven years, with her mother and sister, traveling for study and pleasure; but she insists that she is still an American, and that what she writes is written for her country's fame. Think of this, of Mr. Henry James, Jr.; and when thou thinkest repent, and bring forth works meet for repentance. Miss Johnson's habits of literary composition began in her very childhood as a pastime, and her first effort, "The Kettle Club Series," was published when she was very young; how young we shall not be so careless as to say, since then the reader could figure out how old she is now; which would never do! It is related that Mr. Nathaniel Greene once read these little books aloud in the august Somerset Club House, Boston, to a group of "old children." Miss Johnson's first novel, Joseph the Jew, was issued by Harper & Brothers in their "Library of Select Fiction," and so passed for an English reprint. A Sack of Gold and The Calderwood Secret followed in the same series. Then came The Catskill Fairies, which had the honor of exhibition at the Phladelphia Centennial as a specimen of American typography -- to say nothing of authorship. C. Kegan Paul, Trench & Co. reproduced the work last year in London and the English press, from the Scotsman to the Saturday Review, gave it a warm reception. Miss Johnson's next two works were novels: Miss Nancy's Pilgrimage, in the "Library of Select Fiction" again, and A Foreign Marriage in Harper's then new "Library of American Fiction," a series which has died of mediocrity, notwithstanding one or two excellent numbers. A Foreign Marriage was published anonymously. Some would call it a more powerful story of modern life at Florence than The Neptune Vaseis of Siena. It is a reproof of the false ambition of American girls for title-hunting abroad. The Neptune Vase was Miss Johnson's last work before her English "Daisy Miller." Two Old Cats, just appeared in the Franklin Square Library, oddly enough describes the chalet recently occupied by Queen Victoria at Mentone. For Harper's Magazine Miss Johnson has written "The Key of the Family Clock," "A Modern Lohengrin," "The Image of San Domato," "Many Leaves and Few Grapes," and "An Easter Card, or the Man who Came Home"; short stories which have been more or less widely copied. We must not omit to inform the reader that Miss Johnson, though born in Brooklyn, is a Bostonian by parentage, and a direct descendant of the Judge Sewall whose funny diary has just been published by the Massachusetts Historical Society. Italy furnishes her with her favorite foreign surroundings, and she is now there. Would the reader like to see her? Let him imagine a fine presence, a face like a fresh ripe fruit, striking regularity and symmetry of feature, and a singularly sweet and winning expression. And now for her new book, by way of completing her literary history to date:
An English "Daisy Miller." By Virginia W. Johnson. (Boston: Estes & Lauriat, $1.50) The Daisy Miller of Mr. Henry James, Jr., is not forgotten. From it comes the suggestion of Miss Johnson's little story, which is very little, having about the relation to The Neptune Vase of a Tanagra figurine to a life-size statue. The argument of it is simply "You're another" -- a retort in dignified manner to those British critics, either native born or of American origin, who put down all the feminne fools found traveling on the Continent as having come from this side of the water....All of which is told in a very neat style, and with a lifelikeness which suggests that it must be founded on fact.
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Special thanks to the staff of Interlibrary Loan at West Chester University for tracing and acquiring a copy of this article.