Agnes Repplier (April 1, 1858 – December 15, 1950) was an American essayist.
- Born in Philadelphia in 1855 or 1858, of French and German extraction, she was educated at the Sacred Heart Convent at Torresdale, Philadelphia and later at the Agnes Irwin School.
- Repplier was reputedly expelled from two schools for “independent behaviour” and illiterate until the age of 10.
- Despite this, she became one of America’s chief representatives of the discursive essay, 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.”
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).
She was a heavy smoker, devout Catholic, and had a conservative’s outlook on the issues of the day.
- She was an advocate of feminism and opponent of American neutrality during World War One, though an opponent of radicals and activists.
- Living and dying in Philadelphia, she also spent time in Europe.
- Literary critic Edward Wagenknecht described her, in 1946, as “our dean of essayists.”
Words of Wisdom
It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.