Olivia Howard Dunbar

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Olivia Howard Dunbar (1873–1953) was an American short story writer, journalist and biographer, best known today for her ghost fiction.[1]


Dunbar was born in West Bridgeport, Massachusetts in 1873. She graduated from Smith College, after which she worked in newspaper journalism. She worked for the The New York World during which time she penned an expose on Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science.[2] As a short story writer and critic, she was published in many of the popular periodicals of her time, including Harper's and The Dial. Dunbar wrote several ghost stories, as well as a 1905 essay, "The Decay of the Ghost in Fiction", defending the subgenre.[3] Dunbar was active in the women's suffrage movement, and her work has been noted to contain feminist themes.[1] She married the poet Ridgely Torrence in 1914. Dunbar died in 1953. Her work has been anthologized by Dorothy Scarborough and Jessica Amanda Salmonson.[1][4]

Selected works[edit]

Short fiction[edit]

  • The Shell of Sense (1908)
  • The Long Chamber (1914)


  • A House in Chicago (1947)


  1. ^ a b c Salmonson, Jessica Amanda (1989). What Did Miss Darrington See? : An Anthology of Feminist Supernatural Fiction. New York: The Feminist Press at the City University of New York. ISBN 9781558610057.
  2. ^ Howard Dunbar, Olivia (May 15, 1901). ""The Real Mrs. Eddy. "Mother" Of Christian Science"". New York World.
  3. ^ Olivia Howard Dunbar, "The Decay of the Ghost in Fiction". In Jason Colavito, ed.,A Hideous Bit of Morbidity: An Anthology of Horror Criticism from the Enlightenment to World War I. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008. (pp. 330-336). ISBN 978-0786469093 (Reprinted from The Dial, June 1, 1905, p. 377-380.)
  4. ^ Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, Scare tactics : supernatural fiction by American women.New York : Fordham University Press, 2008. ISBN 0823229858 (p. 106).

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]