Image of Agnes Repplier


Lifetime: 1855 - 1950 Passed: ≈ 73 years ago


American Essayist.


United States

Agnes Repplier

Agnes Repplier was an American essayist. 

She was born in Philadelphia in 1855, of French and German extraction, and was educated at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Eden Hall 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 ten. 


Despite her school experiences, 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 elected as a member to the American Philosophical Society in 1928. 


She was a heavy smoker. Repplier was a 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. 


Edward Wagenknecht described her, in 1946, as "our dean of essayists". 

Books by Agnes Repplier

Americans and Others Cover image

Americans and Others

Non-Fiction Essays
Culture Customs Short Works

A collection of sometimes biting, always clever commentaries on some of life's foibles -- as apt today as when Ms. Repplier wrote them in 1912. Though less know to modern readers, Repplier was in her prime ranked among the likes of Willa Cather. Note...

In Our Convent Days  Cover image

In Our Convent Days

Humour Memoir
Essay Spirit Short Works Experiences Catholicism

With her usual wit and charm, Ms. Repplier recalls her days at Eden Hall, the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Torresdale, north of Philadelphia. She shares the highlights (and some of the low lights) of her time there. Perhaps this sharp eye, nurtured...

Essays in Idleness Cover image

Essays in Idleness

War Beauty Children Reflection Short Works Letters

Agnes Repplier was a popular and highly regarded essayist of the late 19th and early 20th century, who was also well known on the lecture circuit. Her writings are witty, erudite, and engaging. The eight essays in this collection include an homage to...