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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"Plucking roses from a cabbage patch": Class dynamics in progressive era Louisville as understood through the contested relationship of Mary Bass and Alice Hegan Rice
by Hardman, James Brian, M.A., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2016, 186; 10247404
Abstract (Summary)

In 1901, Alice Hegan Rice, a wealthy socialite reformer, published the novel Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch which dealt her experiences working with the poor. By the end of 1902 her novel had become a national phenomenon and finished the decade as one of its five bestselling books. Though the novel was fictional in nature, the book’s heroine, Mrs. Wiggs, was based on the life of a real woman, who inhabited the one of the poorest neighborhoods in Louisville, Kentucky at the turn of the twentieth-century, a slum known as the Cabbage Patch. Shortly after the book’s publication it became well-advertised that Mary Bass, a widowed mother of five children living in poverty in the Cabbage Patch, was the prototype for the beloved character of Mrs. Wiggs and subsequently and quite undesirably became fetishized by an overenthusiastic public. Mary Bass would end up suing Alice Hegan Rice for libel. The Bass/Rice story supplies an uncommon historical opportunity to analyze the portrayal of poverty in popular fiction in the Progressive Era United States and the classist values behind those representations.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hicks, Cheryl D.
Commitee: Ramsey, Sonya, Shapiro, Aaron
School: The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Department: History
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: MAI 56/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: American history, American literature
Keywords: Bass, Mary, Cabbbage patch, Class, Hegan, Alice Cladwell, Kentucky, Louisville, Rice, Alice Hegan
Publication Number: 10247404
ISBN: 978-1-369-55721-3
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