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.
|Advisor:||Hicks, Cheryl D.|
|Commitee:||Ramsey, Sonya, Shapiro, Aaron|
|School:||The University of North Carolina at Charlotte|
|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|
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