Agnes Repplier

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Agnes Repplier
DiedDecember 15, 1950(1950-12-15) (aged 95)
Resting placeSaint John the Evangelist church, Philadelphia
Notable worksIn Our Convent Days (1905), Points of Friction (1920)

Agnes Repplier (April 1, 1855[1] – December 15, 1950) was an American essayist.

Early years[edit]

She was born in Philadelphia in 1855,[2] of French and German extraction,[3] and was educated at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Eden Hall at Torresdale, Philadelphia, and later at the Agnes Irwin School. Repplier was reportedly expelled from two schools for "independent behaviour" and illiterate until the age of ten.[2] She received mentoring in writing by a nun who was herself a noted writer, Mary Paulina Finn, who published books, poetry and plays under the pseudonym M. S. Pine.[4]


Despite her school experiences, she became one of America's chief representatives of the discursive essay,[5] displaying wide reading and apt quotation. Her writings contain literary criticism as well as comments on contemporary life. These characteristics were already apparent in the first essay which she contributed to the Atlantic Monthly (April 1886), entitled “Children, Past and Present.”[6]

Repplier's earliest national publications appeared in 1881 in Catholic World. Although she did write several biographies and some fiction, early in her career she decided to concentrate on essays, and for 50 years she enjoyed a national reputation. She was awarded honorary degrees by the University of Pennsylvania (1902), Notre Dame (1911), Yale (1925), and Columbia University (1927).[7] She was elected as a member to the American Philosophical Society in 1928.[8] Repplier received the Siena Medal from Theta Phi Alpha in 1939.

Personal life[edit]

Repplier was a devout Catholic, and had a conservative's outlook on the issues of the day.[3] She was an advocate of feminism and opponent of American neutrality during World War One, though an opponent of radicals and activists.[2] Living and dying in Philadelphia, she also spent time in Europe.[2]

Edward Wagenknecht described her, in 1946, as "our dean of essayists".[2]

Selected works[edit]

  • Philadelphia: The Place and the People (1898)
  • The Fireside Sphinx (1901)
  • In Our Convent Days (1905)
  • The Cat (1912)
  • Germany and Democracy (1914; with J. William White)
  • The Promise of the Bell: Christmas in Philadelphia (1924)
  • To Think of Tea! (1932)
  • In Pursuit of Laughter (1936) a historical study of types of humor
Essay collections
  • Books and Men (1888)
  • Points of View (1891)
  • Essays in Miniature (1892)
  • Essays in Idleness (1893)
  • In the Dozy Hours and Other Papers (1894)
  • Varia (1897)
  • Compromises (1904)
  • A Happy Half-Century and Other Essays (1908)
  • Americans and Others (1912)
  • Counter-Currents (1916)
  • Points of Friction (1920)
  • Under Dispute (1924)
  • Times and Tendencies (1931)
  • Eight Decades: Essays and Episodes (1937)
Biographical studies
  • J. William White, M.D.: A Biography (1919)
  • Père Marquette: Priest, Pioneer and Adventurer (1929) (Jacques Marquette)
  • Mère Marie of the Ursulines: A Study in Adventure (1931) (Marie de l'Incarnation)
  • Junípero Serra: Pioneer Colonist of California (1933)
  • Agnes Irwin: A Biography (1934)
Short stories
Selected articles


  1. ^ This Is My Best (anthology) edited by Whit Burnett 1942 p.1153 Biographies and Bibliographies
  2. ^ a b c d e Nancy A. Walker, Nancy Nash-Cummings, Zita Dresner. Redressing the balance: American women's literary humor from Colonial times to the 1980s. University Press of Mississippi, 1988 p.207
  3. ^ a b Paul R. Messbarger (1974). "Repplier, Agnes". Dictionary of American Biography. Vol. Supplement Four 1946-1950. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  4. ^ "Sister Paulina's Rites are Held at Georgetown". The Washington Post. March 2, 1935.
  5. ^ Reilly, Joseph J. (1938–39). "The Daughter of Addison," The Catholic World, Vol. 148, pp. 158–166.
  6. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). "Repplier, Agnes". Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). London & New York: The Encyclopædia Britannica Company.
  7. ^ Rickenbacker, William F. (1994). "Agnes Repplier Revisited," Modern Age, Vol. 36, No. 4, p. 341.
  8. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved May 3, 2021.

Further reading[edit]

  • Breed, Charles Everett (1994). Agnes Repplier, American Essayist: The force of Character, the Consolation of Civility. Ph.D. diss. University of Michigan.
  • Dirda, Michael (2009). American Austen: The Forgotten Writing of Agnes Repplier; see "Michael Dirda on 'American Austen: The Forgotten Writing of Agnes Repplier'," The Washington Post.
  • Horchler, Dora (1961). "The Essays of Agnes Repplier," Modern Age, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 311–316.
  • Lukacs, John (1980). Philadelphia: Patricians and Philistines, 1900–1950. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux.
  • Repplier, Emma (1957). Agnes Repplier: A Memoir. Philadelphia: Dorrance and Company.
  • Schelling, Felix E. (1922). "Our Miss Repplier." In: Appraisements and Asperities. Philadelphia & London: J.B. Lippincott Company, pp. 21–26.
  • Stokes, George Stewart (1949). Agnes Repplier: Lady of Letters. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Sweeney, Francis (1951). "Miss Repplier of Philadelphia," The Catholic World, Vol. 173, pp. 278–283.
  • Walker, Nancy and Zita Dresner (1988). Redressing the Balance: American Women’s Literary Humor from Colonial Times to the 1980s. Jackson, Miss.: University of Mississippi Press.
  • White, James A. (1957). The Era of Good Intentions: A Survey of American Catholics Writing between the Years 1889–1915. Ph.D. diss. University of Notre Dame.

External links[edit]