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10.07.02 Page, Thomas Nelson, The Old South: Essays Social and Political and Other Writings, published 1887 to 1914.

Notes Concerning the Author and his Writings.

Thomas Nelson Page (1853 – 1922) was a lawyer and a Virginian and a Southern writer of non-fiction and fiction.  He also served as the American ambassador to Italy during the administration of President Woodrow Wilson, including the important period of World War I.  Both is father and his mother were of prosperous and prominent Virginia families by the end of the War Between the States, when Thomas had just turned 12 years old, the conclusion of Political Reconstruction, when Thomas reached manhood, the family was destitute.  Nevertheless he managed to get an education, including the University of Virginia, and become accredited as a lawyer by the age of 23, in 1876. 

In 1893 Page gave up his law practice entirely and moved Washington, D. C. to focus on his writing (18 volumes when compiled and published in 1912). Page popularized the tradition of life on large Southern farms prior to the War Between the States.  He viewed those years as representative of moral purity, and often vilified the reforms of the Gilded Age as a sign of moral decline.  Such views are especially evident in his collection of short stories, In Ole Virginia, published in 1887 with introduction by Clyde N. Wilson.  Another short-story collection is entitled The Burial of the Guns (1894).

But Page also wrote nonfiction of the same tenor, such as this 1892 collection of essays, which he hoped might “serve to help awaken inquiry into the true history of the Southern people and may aid in dispelling the misapprehension under which  the Old South has lain so long.”  Here, concerning the South prior to state secession and war, Nelson Page proudly offers his attitudes is non-fiction writings, including:  The Old South; Authorship in the South Before the War; Glimpses of Life in Colonial Virginia; Social Life in Old Virginia Before the War; Two Old Colonial Places; The Old Virginia Lawyer; The Want of a History of the Southern People, and The Negro Question.

Under President Woodrow Wilson, Page served as ambassador to Italy for 6 years between 1913 and 1919. His book entitled Italy and the World War (1920) is a memoir of his service there.