Michael Anesko is an U.S. literary critic, writer and professor. He is perhaps best known for his studies of 19th-century American novelists, in particular, Henry James and William Dean Howells. He is currently a professor of English at Pennsylvania State University, planning to return to teaching in fall 2008 after a year-long sabbatical, and previously served as faculty advisor for the department's undergraduate honors program. He lives in State College, Pennsylvania, where he was born, and also in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Educated at Penn State and Harvard, Anesko published in 1986 a groundbreaking study of the economic factors that shaped Henry James' literary career. Titled "Friction with the Market": Henry James and the Profession of Authorship, the book argued against the image of James as a mandarin artist who ignored the dictates of the marketplace. Anesko showed how James actively sought the best prices for his works, used literary agents extensively, and was not afraid to pit one publisher against another. The book also calculated James' income from his writings for each year of his career, and explored how James constructed the New York Edition (1907–1909) of his works.
In 1997 Anesko published a complete collection of the correspondence between James and his friend and editor, William Dean Howells. The collection, Letters, Fictions, Lives: Henry James and William Dean Howells showed how the two writers' careers developed from their earliest days to eventual prominence in their profession. Again, the focus was on the interaction between professional demands and artistic development.
Besides these books Anesko has contributed many articles to journals and anthologies on American literature, especially the 19th century realists. He is a past president of the Henry James Society (publisher of the Henry James Review) and has been honored for his work as a faculty advisor at Penn State. His research interests include the history of book publishing, authorship as a profession, and sociological aspects of literature. He has written a study of nineteenth-century French critics of the American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, which will be published by Ohio State University Press.
- "Friction with the Market" : Henry James and the Profession of Authorship by Michael Anesko, Oxford University Press 1986 ISBN 0-19-504034-1
- Letters, Fictions, Lives : Henry James and William Dean Howells by Michael Anesko, Oxford University Press 1997 ISBN 0-19-506119-5
- Penn State page on Michael Anesko
- Description and award for Michael Anesko's work as faculty advisor
- Notes from the Henry James Society on Michael Anesko