Veil of Fear: Nineteenth-Century Convent Tales by Rebecca Reed and Maria Monk (Paperback)

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Veil of Fear
Purdue University Press
5.00" x 8.00"

Book Description

Rebecca Reed and Maria Monk may not be well-known authors today, but these women were publishing sensations in nineteenth-century America. Their lurid tales of life in two North American convents, one in Charlestown, Massachusetts, and the other in Montreal, Canada, sold more than one-half million copies. Reed escaped from the Ursuline convent in Charlestown in 1832. Her dramatic renditions of Roman Catholic ritual practice helped spark a night of violence that resulted in the convent being burned to the ground by an angry mob. Reed's published narrative, Six Months in a Convent, appeared just as the trials of the rioters were ending in 1835, and became an instant literary success. Monk's supporters capitalized on the lucrative market in anti-Catholic literature, by bringing out the pseudo-pornographic Awful Disclosures of the Hotel Dieu Nunnery in 1836. Monk, who claimed her infant daughter had been fathered by a Catholic priest, was in fact a Montreal prostitute rather than a nun. She enjoyed the life of a literary star in New York before her hoax was uncovered. These two narratives are now available for the first time in a single paperback edition. Nancy Lusignan Schultz's introduction provides a fascinating glimpse into the history, development, and marketing of these phenomenal best-sellers. The convent tales by Reed and Monk are classics that must be read by those interested in American studies, popular culture, social and religious history, literature, and women's studies.

About the Editor(s):

Nancy Lusignan Schultz is a professor of English at Salem State College, Salem, Massachusetts.  She is the editor of the anthology Fear Itself: Enemies Real and Imagined in American Culture (Purdue Unviersity Press, 1999).  She has published articles on Harriet Beecher Stowe and captivity narratives and is writing a book about the 1834 Charlestown, Massachusetts, convent burning.