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.