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An Island Cabin

A new spin on an old tale

Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945) is one of the giants of 20th century American literature, best known for his novels "Sister Carrie" and "An American Tragedy," which director George Stevens turned into the film "A Place in the Sun."

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Dreiser's lesser-known friend and colleague was Arthur Henry (1867-1934), who was at the time a well-known journalist, novelist and playwright. He also edited Dreiser's sprawling realism for publication.

In 1902, Henry first published the newly reissued "An Island Cabin," (Flat Hammock Press, $19.95). The fictional work told the story of an author who flees the industrial urban blight of the late 19th century and moves to a simple cabin on a small island off Connecticut. A little sailing skiff takes the author to shore and back while he works on his novel.

The protagonist has left his wife and daughter back in the Midwest, but his idyllic escape is challenged when a husband and wife visit the island with their maid in tow. Written in the first person, the popular and entertaining story was serialized at the time in the New York Post. It was only recently revealed by his family that the protagonist was Henry and his real friends and family, all given pseudonyms.

In this reissued version, Henry's granddaughter, Maggie Walker, provides the introduction and the publishers have added three short stories by Dreiser.

A gallery of dozens of period photographs from Noank, Conn., enhances the publication.

This article originally appeared in the Home Waters sections of the April 2011 issue.