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Charles Brockden Brown

Charles Brockden Brown, 1771-1810, American novelist.

Brown came from a Quaker family. After studying and briefly practicing law in Philadelphia, he published his first novel, Wieland (1798). This Gothic novel tells a story of insanity and apparent divine retribution: the hero's father is killed by spontaneous combustion, apparently divine punishment; and Wieland later murders his wife, his children, and ultimately himself. Other novels came in quick succession, including Ormond (1799), Edgar Huntly (1799), and Arthur Mervyn (1799-1800).