Brown, Charles Brockden, 1771–1810, American novelist and editor, b. Philadelphia, considered the first professional American novelist. After the publication of Alcuin: A Dialogue (1798), he wrote such novels as Edgar Huntly (1799), Arthur Mervyn (2 vol., 1799–1800), and Ormond (1799), in which he presented arguments for social reform. Wieland (1799) was by far his most popular work and foreshadowed the psychological novel. To support himself after 1800 he became a merchant but also edited successively three periodicals, wrote political pamphlets, and projected a compendium on geography.
See B. Rosenthal, ed., Critical Essays on Charles Brockden (1981); A. Axelrod, Charles Brockden Brown: An American Tale (1983).
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