ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance
"'A Man's Sense of Domesticity': Donald Grant Mitchell's Suburban Vision"
This essay examines articulations of masculine domesticity by popular American writer Donald Grant Mitchell (better known by his pseudonym Ik Marvel) over the course of his literary career within the context of trends in early suburban community formation. It compares Mitchell's 1850 bestseller Reveries of a Bachelor to his country books of the 1860s in order to call attention to a strand of writing by nineteenth-century male authors that outlined alternatives to the female-centered domesticities that scholars have come to know so well. While many prominent female domestic reformers preached the virtues of labor and sympathy with readers, viewing leisure with suspicion and allowing it only in the service of a greater good (such as exercise or community building), Mitchell and other proponents of masculine domesticity promised to defend the bounds of personhood in parklike suburban settings through domestic flourishes and activities that reflected individual dreams and aspirations.