Thomas Wortham, professor of American literature at the University of California, Los Angeles, is an editor of the Selected Letters of W. D. Howells, as well as of other nineteenth–century works and documents. He is also co–editor of the journal Nineteenth–Century Literature and author of numerous articles on nineteenth–century American literature.
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While William Dean Howells is today best remembered as Mark Twain’s staunchest defender, Howells was, at his peak, the unrivaled man of letters in America: he had no contemporary equal. The achievements of both Twain and Henry James have since surpassed those of Howells in the literary hierarchy, but the work of Howells still remains an important part of American letters.