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Elizabeth Stuart Phelps (1844-1911) was an American author and an early advocate of clothing reform, urging women to burn their corsets. She wrote fifty-seven volumes of fiction, poetry and essays. In 1868 Phelps' story "The Tenth of January" about a tragic fire that killed scores of girls at the Pemberton Mill in Lawrence, MA established her reputation as a writer, and her novel The Gates Ajar became a national bestseller. Phelps gained popularity through the publication of The Gates Ajar (1868), for which she is now best known. This novel offered a comforting view of the afterlife to women who had lost loved ones in the Civil War. The book sold over 100,000 copies in the United States and England; it was also translated into several languages. The story concerns the grief-stricken Mary Cabot, whose brother was killed in the war, and who becomes convinced that she will be reunited with her brother in the hereafter. This book was followed by two sequels, Beyond the Gates (1883) and The Gates Between (1887). All three novels describe heaven as a faultless construction of material life and the afterlife as the rewarded chance to make up for opportunities wasted on Earth. Her books included Ellen's Idol (1864), Mercy Gliddon's Work (1866), The Gates Ajar (1868, novel), Men, Women, and Ghosts (1869, short stories), Hedged In (1870), The Silent Partner (1871, novel), Poetic Studies (1875), The Story of Avis (1877, novel), An Old Maid's Paradise (1879), Doctor Zay (1882, novel), Beyond the Gates (1883, novel), Songs of the Silent World (1884), Jack the Fisherman (1887), The Gates Between (1887), The struggle for Immortality (1889), The Master of the Magicians (1890, novel, with Herbert D. Ward), Come Forth (1890, novel, with Herbert D. Ward), A Lost Hero (1891, novel, with Herbert D. Ward), Austin Phelps (1891, biography, of her father), A Singular Life (1895, novel), Chapters from a Life (1896, memoir), The Story of Jesus Christ (1897), The Supply at Saint Agetha's (1897), Within the Gates (1901), Trixy (1904), The Man in the Case (1906), Walled In (1907, novel), The Empty House and Other Stories (1910, short stories), A Chariot of Fire (1910), Comrades (1911, novel).
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