James Branch Cabell

Literary Life and Legacy

Cabell’s Books and their Revisions

James Branch Cabell frequently revised, reworked and republished his own material. This is a list of his books in chronological order along with their revision dates and any title changes. Linked titles may be read online through the Internet Archive or HathiTrust.

The Biography of the Life of Manuel

Writing desk owned by James Branch Cabell [View Image]James Branch Cabell’s writing desk
Cabell Room, James Branch Cabell Library
Virginia Commonwealth University

One of the greatest complications in Cabell’s corpus is the author’s decision to create a conceptual framework encompassing his writing between 1901 and 1929. The Biography of the Life of Manuel reimagines these novels, essays and poetry as a series tracing the life, illusions and disillusions of Dom Manuel, Count of Poictesme, through his life and those of his physical and spiritual heirs. In The Biography of the Life of Manuel, Cabell explores a repeating pattern of human concerns and actions in the pursuit of happiness. That pattern, as Cabell expressed it, persists across generations, and is revealed in many characters’ stories.

The Biography, however, is an organizing idea, not a published set. If you want to read the revised works that make up The Biography, look for The Storisende Edition of The Works of James Branch Cabell (1927-1930), with the caveat that, even as late as 1948, Cabell revised three previously published stories to create The Witch-Woman and inserted it into his grand narrative of Manuel and his descendants.

Titles and revisions

The Eagle’s Shadow (1904; revised 1923 and 1929)

The Line of Love (1905; revised 1921 and 1928)

Branchiana: Being a Partial Account of the Branch Family in Virginia (1907)

Gallantry; An Eighteenth Century Dizain in Ten Comedies, with an Afterpiece (1907; revised 1922 and 1929)

Chivalry (1909; revised 1921 and 1928)

The Cords of Vanity (1909; revised 1920 and 1929)

Branch of Abingdon, Being a Partial Account of the Ancestry of Christopher Branch of “Arrowhattocks” and “Kingsland” in Henrico County, and the Founder of the Branch Family in Virginia (1911)

The Soul of Melicent (1913); revised as Domnei: A Comedy of Woman-Worship (1920 and 1928)

The Majors and Their Marriages, with Collateral Accounts of the Allied Families of Aston, Ballard, Christian, Dancy, Hartwell, Hubard, Macon, Marable, Mason, Patterson, Piersey, Seawell, Stephens, Waddill, and Others  (1915)

The Rivet in Grandfather’s Neck: A Comedy of Limitations (1915; revised 1929)

From the Hidden Way: Being Seventy-Five Adaptations in Verse (1916; revised 1924 as From the Hidden Way: Dizain des Échoes; further revised 1929); Sixteen of these ballads were reissued as Ballades from the Hidden Way (1928)

The Certain Hour (Dizain des Poëtes) (1916; minor revision 1920; thorough revision 1929)

The Cream of the Jest: A Comedy of Evasions (1917; major revision 1930)

Beyond Life: Dizain des Demiurges (1919; revised 1930)

Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice (1919; revised edition 1921; Cabell’s preferred text 1927; possible slight revisions 1928)

The Judging of Jurgen (1920)

Jurgen and the Censor (1920)

Figures of Earth: A Comedy of Appearances (1921; revised 1927)

The Jewel Merchants: A Comedy in One Act (1921; revised 1929)

Joseph Hergesheimer: An Essay in Interpretation (1921); later incorporated into Straws and Prayer-Books

Taboo: A Legend Retold from the Dighic of Saevius Nicanor, with Prolegomena, Notes, and a Preliminary Memoir (1921)

The Lineage of Lichfield: An Essay in Eugenics (1922; revised 1930)

The High Place: A Comedy of Disenchantment (1923; revised 1928)

Straws and Prayer-Books: Dizain des Diversions (1924; revised 1930)

The Silver Stallion (1926)

The Music from Behind the Moon: An Epitome (1926; revised 1930 and thoroughly revised 1948 for The Witch-Woman)

Something About Eve: A Comedy of Fig-Leaves (1927)

The Works of James Branch Cabell. Storisende Edition. [an 18-volume collection, re-ordered and published under the author’s supervision; 18 volumes representing The Biography of the Life of Manuel] 1927-1930)

The White Robe: A Saint’s Summary (1928; revised 1930; revised again and incorporated in The Witch-Woman (1948)

Sonnets from Antan (1929/1930). Published in celebration of Cabell’s 50th birthday. Related to Something About Eve and incorporated into Townsend of Lichfield, 1930

The Way of Ecben: A Comedietta Involving a Gentleman (1929; incorporated into Townsend of Lichfield, 1930)

Between Dawn and Sunrise: Selections from the Writings of James Branch Cabell, Chosen with an Introduction and Initiatory Notes by John Macy [ed. by John Macy] (1930)

Some of Us: An Essay in Epitaphs (1930)

Townsend of Lichfield: Dizain des Adieux (1930)

These Restless Heads: A Trilogy of Romantics, as Branch Cabell (1932)

Special Delivery: A Packet of Replies, as Branch Cabell (1933)

Ladies and Gentlemen: A Parcel of Reconsiderations, as Branch Cabell (1934)

Smirt: An Urbane Nightmare, as Branch Cabell (1934)

Smith: A Sylvan Interlude, as Branch Cabell (1935)

Preface to the Past (1936). A compilation and revision of all the Author’s Notes from the Storisende volumes.

Smire: An Acceptance in the Third Person, as Branch Cabell (1937)

The Nightmare Has Triplets: An Author’s Note on Smire (1937)

Of Ellen Glasgow: An Inscribed Portrait by Ellen Glasgow and Branch Cabell (1938). Printed for private distribution by Glasgow and Cabell. Later incorporated into Let Me Lie.

The King Was in His Counting House: A Comedy of Common-Sense, as Branch Cabell (1938)

Hamlet Had an Uncle: A Comedy of Honor, as Branch Cabell (1940)

The First Gentleman of America: A Comedy of Conquest, as Branch Cabell (1942); UK title: The First American Gentleman (1942)

The St. Johns: A Parade of Diversities, as Branch Cabell, with A.J. Hanna (1943)

There Were Two Pirates: A Comedy of Division (1946)

Let Me Lie, Being in the Main an Ethnological Account of the Remarkable Commonwealth of Virginia and the Making of Its History (1947)

The Witch-Woman: A Trilogy About Her [includes revised versions of The Music Behind the Moon, The White Robe and The Way of Ecben with a new introductory essay “A Note as to Ettare”] (1948). Inserted as the fourth volume in the conceptual framework known as The Biography of the Life of Manuel.

The Devil’s Own Dear Son: A Comedy of the Fatted Calf (1949)

Quiet, Please. An Upshot of All Dreaming (1952)

As I Remember It: Some Epilogues in Recollection (1955)

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