The Symposium and George Washington Cable

Cover, the Symposium, Vol 1., No. 1 October 1896

In October 1896, George Washington Cable published the first volume and issue of the literary magazine The Symposium from offices at 41 Center Street, Northampton.  Cable, born in New Orleans, made a career of writing about life of the Creole in Louisiana, and about regional southern life in general.  His novels were popular in the North because of his unique way of describing life there.  He was not particularly popular with the Creole, as they felt his representations were not positive ones.  He was critical of many Southern practices, including the treatment of African-Americans, in novels, articles and speeches.

A Northern book tour with Mark Twain in 1884, provided Cable with his first glimpse of Northampton, MA.  He moved with his family here in 1885.  He was part of the intellectual and social scene of the town almost immediately.  During his lifetime, (he died in 1925), he founded a local Home Culture Club, which described itself as “small, fireside clubs, meeting once a week for unlaborious systematic reading, or for any light pursuit that is at the same time entertaining and profitable.”  He was a founder and supporter of the People’s Institute, an organization that still operates in Northampton today.  He was a frequent visitor to the Smith College campus, and from the contents of this issue of The Symposium, Smith faculty and graduates were frequent contributors to his magazine.

Unfortunately, this appears to be the only issue of The Symposium located in the College Archives.   If you know of additional copies and would like to share that information with readers of the blog, please feel free to comment.



One Response to The Symposium and George Washington Cable

  1. Martin says:

    The gorgeous cover art is certainly by the famous American art-nouveau illustrator Will Bradley, who had moved to Springfield MA just two years earlier, in 1894. In the same year Symposium was launched Bradley established his Wayside Press, which introduced Americans to the newly-imported art-nouveau style. Perhaps the Symposium was printed at the Wayside Press by Bradley himself.

    Interested students can come to Smith College’s rare book room to see other examples of Will Bradley’s work.

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