BiographyTimeline of Significant EventsWritings by FredericFrederic & Contemporaries: On Writing

Bibliographical Studies

Critical Reception

Bibliography of Criticism

Biographical InfluencesCultural ContextLiterary Influences & ComparisionsLiterary MovementsThe TitleReligion & the ClergyPragmatismThemeStructureGender IssuesCharacterizationThe TrioSister SoulsbyReader Response

Dissertations & Theses

Discussion Questions or Topics for Essays


Links of Interest

My Bio



A best-seller in the 1890s, The Damnation of Theron Ware, or Illumination as it is known in England, was heralded as “the great American novel,” for its portrayal of the people--their speech, customs, and beliefs--who inhabit the Mohawk Valley in upstate New York, and as “anti-American” in its subversion of the traditional American myths of the “American Adam” and the “self-made man.”

Rich in complexities, The Damnation of Theron Ware is the story of a Methodist minister who loses his faith when he makes the acquaintance of a Catholic priest, a post-Darwinian scientist, a New Woman, and a pragmatic con artist. In the end, critics are in disagreement about the extent of Theron Ware’s damnation or illumination and the degree to which his new friends are responsible for changes in his beliefs and behavior.

An important work of American fiction that deserves greater critical attention, The Damnation of Theron Ware must be read within its historical, literary, and cultural context. Significant events and discoveries in the fields of science, technology, religion, philosophy, art, and literature shaped Frederic’s thinking and writing, particularly the events and characters of The Damnation of Theron Ware. An understanding of this milieu is critical to understanding the issues of this topical yet universal masterpiece.


A study guide with an annotated bibliography of criticism devoted specifically to The Damnation of Theron Ware, this ongoing project and research tool is divided into six main sections: (1) the home page, which briefly introduces users to the site, identifies the scope of the project, and provides links to other pages; (2) “Harold Frederic,” which includes a biography of the author, a timeline of significant events during his lifetime, a select bibliography of his writing, and a sampling of interviews with and articles on Frederic as author and critic; (3) “Bibliographical Studies,” which lists bibliographies, checklists, catalogues, critical overviews, and online resources; (4) “The Damnation of Theron Ware,” which includes a discussion of the contemporaneous critical reception of the novel, an annotated bibliography of criticism in list form and broken down by subject, a bibliography of dissertations and theses, and recommended discussion questions or topics for essays; (5) a “Glossary,” which includes terms that may be unfamiliar to students; and (6) “Links of Interest,” which directs users to other websites relevant to a study of The Damnation of Theron Ware.

Partial material is included on contemporaneous reviews (a few are cited in “Critical Reception” to give readers a sense of the literary environment in which the novel appeared) and dissertations and theses (a complete bibliography is provided, but without annotations because of the difficulty of obtaining the works from libraries). Hopefully, a section listing conference papers on The Damnation of Theron Ware can be added as users contribute bibliographical entries.

I owe a debt of gratitude to those scholars who have invested countless hours researching and compiling the bibliographies, checklists, catalogues, critical overviews, and online resources that have served as the foundation for my own work on Frederic’s novel.

“Harold Frederic’s The Damnation of Theron Ware: A Study Guide with Annotated Bibliography” is a Master’s Thesis intended as a research tool for high school and undergraduate students and their teachers.

Submissions, either annotated bibliographical entries or titles, from authors who have written about The Damnation of Theron Ware or from anyone who is aware of criticism that has been inadvertently overlooked in this website, are welcome. Respondents will be credited for their contributions. I particularly welcome abstracts of dissertations and theses, since these works are not always readily available from libraries. Suggestions, comments, and corrections are also welcome.

Thank you for your assistance in this ongoing project.

Title Page | Abstract | Acknowledgments

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last update - 11/17/03

All information Copyright © 2003 Robin Taylor Rogers.
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