A Christmas Offering
December 20, 2013 9:36 AM Subscribe
...They have got up among themselves a periodical called THE LOWELL OFFERING, "a repository of original articles, written exclusively by females actively employed in the mills," -- which is duly printed, published, and sold; and whereof I brought away from Lowell four hundred good solid pages, which I have read from beginning to end...Of the merits of the Lowell Offering as a literary production I will only observe, putting entirely out of sight the fact of the articles having been written by these girls after the arduous labours of the day, that it will compare advantageously with a great many English Annuals. It is pleasant to find that many of its Tales are of the Mills, and of those who work in them; that they inculcate habits of self-denial and contentment, and teach good doctrines of enlarged benevolence.On an early leg of his 1842 American tour, Charles Dickens paid a visit to Lowell, Massachusetts, where he toured the famous river-powered textile mills and met some of the thousands of young women employed there. The literary journal he carried away, the Offering, inculcated certain of its benevolent doctrines through stories about Christmas, ghosts, mystic journeys through time and space, and mystic journeys through time and space with ghosts. Soon after his return to England, Dickens published A Christmas Carol. Coincidence?
-"A Visit from Hope," by an unknown author, 1841. One of the Offering pieces in question.
-"The Story of the Goblins Who Stole of a Sexton," a tale of supernatural rebuke and moral reversal told within the famous Christmas episode of Dicken's Pickwick Papers (1836).
-Judith Ranta's study of Betsey Guppy Chamberlain, a mill worker of Algonquian descent whose vivid Offering stories protested the persecution of Native Americans. Ranta observes in passing that "the dream vision is a fairly common genre in the Lowell Offering and other nineteenth-century periodicals, yet virtually no scholarship exists on this genre in nineteenth-century U.S. writing, perhaps because periodicals have been little studied or the form has been deemed subliterary. Twenty-one prose dream visions were recounted in the Lowell Offering, and another nine prose pieces recount waking visions."
[Hat tip to crush-onastick!]
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