Prelude, A Novel, & The 1854 Diary of Adeline Elizabeth Hoe cover
Prelude, A Novel, & The 1854 Diary of Adeline Elizabeth Hoe
edited by Mr. Richard B. Davidson (Dick) '63
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Helen Davidson
Peter E. Randall Publisher; 2013; 304 pp.
Genre: Fiction
Category: American Studies, Biography, History
Additional Information - Library Catalog

In the spring of 1854 seventeen-year-old Adeline Elizabeth Hoe began to keep  
a daily diary. Filled with six months of the details of a young girl’s  
life, the diary offers a wonderful window into the mind of an educated young  
woman from a well-to-do family living in Lower Manhattan in the turbulent  
decade before the Civil War. Her meticulous record of the elegant music,  
dances and literature she and her sister enjoyed is juxtaposed with her  
matter-of-fact relation of epidemics and sudden deaths, conveying a vivid  
picture of mid-nineteenth-century life. Author Helen Davidson, a descendant  
of Adeline, transcribed the diary with her husband, Richard Davidson. Helen  
wrote the novel Prelude, while transcribing Adeline’s diary, re-imagining  
the life of this spirited young girl.
The novel Prelude commences in the spring before the eighteenth birthday of  
Adeline Elizabeth Hoe, when she and her older sister Emilie travel to summer  
destinations in the countryside. Addie was the second daughter of famed  
inventor and manufacturer Richard March Hoe, whose “Lightning” printing  
press had become widely used in the United States and beyond. Adeline  
recorded her experiences and reflections in delicate script at the  
instigation of her boy cousins.
The diary, covering six months of her life, describes a middle-class world  
filled with family and acquaintances, one of whom appears often in the Hoe  
household and the places Addie visits. He is Joe Stewart. In Prelude, he  
comes to occupy a central role. Haberdasher, expert horseman, and friend of  
R. M. Hoe, he leads a secret life. As his confidante, Adeline becomes aware  
of the atmosphere of antebellum opposition to slavery and begins herself to  
espouse Abolitionist sentiment, the closer she gets to the mysterious Joe.

About the Author
A lifelong music teacher, choral director, dramatist and writer, Helen  
Davidson is the custodian of many heirlooms in a family whose American roots  
stem from the early 1600s. These include her ancestor’s diary, which was  
transcribed and annotated through many years of research, and which became  
the inspiration for the novel, Prelude. She co-edited the diary with her  
husband, Richard Davidson (Amherst class of 1963). They live in Plainfield,  
New Hampshire, in the home where Helen was raised.