Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Virginius Dabney, July 31, 1975. Interview A-0311-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Southern writers were urged to forge a regional alliance, despite personal rivalries

Ellen Glasgow and James Branch Cabell were authors from Richmond, Virginia, whose professional rivalries were exposed upon Glasgow's death. This passage reveals southerners' pressure to unify along regional lines, even in writing.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Virginius Dabney, July 31, 1975. Interview A-0311-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

DANIEL JORDAN:
Were there any professional jealousies between Glasgow and Cabell?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
It didn't come out until after her death. They were great friends as far as everybody could tell, and he did her a great service when she was ill, aiding her with at least one and maybe two of her important books; he even rewrote parts of them. After she died and her posthumous book came out, she made no acknowledgement whatsoever of his help. Furthermore, in her book, she revived those discredited charges, while saying that they were soundless. She should never have revived this long-forgotten gossip, and Cabell was furious. He did a chapter about her in his As I Remember It, which is one of the most brilliant things that he ever wrote. He pretended to be complimenting her as a great lady, but it was the most tongue-in-cheek series of compliments that I ever read. He really took her apart and revealed her pettiness toward other writers, how she made vicious remarks behind their backs, and what a high opinion of herself she had, and such things as that, all of which may have been true, for all I know. As far as my contacts with Miss Glasgow went, she was a very attractive, good-looking, sociable, outgoing lady who liked to entertain and who no doubt liked favorable publicity. She made it clear that she did, and openly confessed to me once that she thought it was time that southern writers did a little log rolling and praising of each other as the New Englanders had done years ago. Her correspondence reveals the most amazing log rolling. She would tell Stark Young what to say about her books for example. He would write her and say, "What do you want me to say about this novel?" She would write him back, and he would duly put that into the pages of The New Republic. Have you read that?
DANIEL JORDAN:
No, I haven't.
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
That's in the book by Stanly Godbold, Ellen Glasgow and the Woman Within. It's the book that gives the real lowdown on her, not all unfavorably, but things like that are right there in black and white.