Back to Top

02.02.01 Wright, Louis B., The First Gentlemen of Virginia, published in 1940; and The Colonial Search for a Southern Eden, published in 1953 .

Notes Concerning Author

Louis B. Wright (1899-1984), a native of South Carolina, was a prolific and internationally recognized scholar of Shakespeare and the English Renaissance period.  He was most noted, perhaps, as successively the founder and director of the great research collections of the Huntingdon Library in San Marino, California, and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington.  His contributions to published scholarship were immense.

Our Review

One of Wright’s subjects was the early American colonies,  a natural offshoot of the English period he was interested in.  Two of his most important books in this area, among many others, are recommended here.  The First Gentlemen of Virginia  is a study of the first leaders of that colony that greatly adds to the understanding of the origins of the Southern people. The Colonial Search for a Southern Eden  concerns the motives and goals of the first Southern settlers.  While the Puritans who settled  New England intended to found a collective “City on a Hill” that was superior to all other societies, the settlers of the South had more modest and individual motivations.  They wanted to acquire land and independence and re-create the best of the genteel rural society of England.  The conflict between these two contradictory  foundings runs through American history  and explains much of that history.

Availability of these Books

Both books are available online and on the used book market in hardback and paperback.