Sunday, September 12, 2021

Mrs. Richard S. Greenough

Mrs. Richard S. Greenough (b. Boston, Massachusetts, 19 February 1827; d. Franzensbad, Austria [now Františkovy in the Czech Republic], 9 August 1885)

Sarah Dana Loring was the first of several children of William Joseph Loring (1795-1841) and his wife, Anna Thorndike (1804-1872), who were married in Boston in 1825. 

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, on 26 September 1846, she married Richard Saltonstall Greenough (1819-1904). They had two children, daughter Anna Loring (known as "Nina") Greenough (1847-1897), and son, an artist, Richard Gordon Greenough (1851-1885) 

Her husband was a well-known sculptor, as was his older brother, Horatio Greenough (1805-1852). The Greenoughs split their time between Europe and America, but spent much of the time in Rome. Richard Saltonstall Greenough's best-known work is an eight-foot bronze statue of Benjamin Franklin, erected in 1856, that still stands in front of Boston's Old City Hall. Novelist Henry James was close with several members of the Greenough family, who inspired various characters in his fiction. 

Mrs. Greenough published five books during her lifetime. The first was an anonymous novel, Lilian (Boston, 1863). This was followed by Treason at Home, published in three volumes in London in 1865, as by Mrs. Greenough. It was a sensational novel of mystery and crime. (A one-volume severely abridged pirated version came out from a Philadelphia publisher; a review in March 1873 called it "mutilated" with "pages left out, apparently at random," and concluded it was "a great injustice to the author".)  

With her third book her byline settled into being Mrs. Richard S. Greenough. Arabesques (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1872 [but published in December 1871]) is a collection of four romantic, imaginative stories of knights, goblins, and necromancers. Reviewers compared the stories to works by the German romantics, to Phantastes by George MacDonald, and to Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving. The four tales are each illustrated by a medallion head design, uncredited but by the author's son. The four tales have suitably romantic titles, "Monarè"; "Domitia"; "Apollyona" and "Ombra." (The illustration for "Monarè" also appears on the book's front cover.) E.F. Bleiler thought the book "well-sustained, imaginative; among the best late 19th century fantasies" but that is a generous assessment, as the stories are a bit too pious and predictable and the prose a bit dull. 

Her final novel was In Extremis (1872), which originally appeared as a serial in the Christian Union. It  is described as "the voluntary and unacknowledged sacrifice of a daughter for her parent's sake", noting that "the picture is a sad one, nothing relieving its pathetic sombreness but the touches at the close which show the brilliant hues of the glorious heaven just beyond shining upon the closing hours of Helen" (Harper's New Monthly Magazine, March 1873). Her final book was Mary Magdalene: A Poem (1880). In 1887 it was combined posthumously with two other poems to make up Mary Magdalene and Other Poems.

Mrs. Greenough was buried in Campo Cestio, Rome.

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