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Maine Writers Index - Detail   (Return to List)

Sarah Orne Jewett (1849 - 1909)

Genre: Poetry, Children's Literature, General Fiction

Jewett was born and lived all her life in South Berwick, where the Jewett House can be toured from June 1 through October 15. Most famous in Maine for The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896), she also wrote A Country Doctor (1884; a novel; summary and commentary available at this site), which she based on the life of her late father, and numerous other short stories, including her first published story, 'Jenny Garrow's Lovers' (1868) and her second, 'The Shipwrecked Buttons' (1869). She wrote her earliest pieces under the names Alice Eliott or A.C. Eliott. Many of her stories were first published in the Century, Harper's, or Atlantic Monthly. One of her influences was Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Jewett in turn influenced Willa Cather as a writer who could portray a local society sympathetically but without sentiment; in fact, Cather wrote the introduction to the 1954 edition of Country of the Pointed Firs.

Jewett's other works (most anthologies and story collections) include:

  • Deephaven (1877, her first book, made up of sketches of a New England town, first published in Atlantic Monthly)
  • Play Days (1878; for children)
  • Old Friends and New (1879)
  • Country By-Ways (1881)
  • The Mate of the Daylight and Friends Ashore (1883)
  • A Marsh Island (1885; a novel)
  • 'The Dulham Ladies' (1886)
  • the much-anthologized and much-analyzed story, "A White Heron" (1886)
  • The King of Folly Island and Other People (1888)
  • Betty Leicester (1889; for children)
  • Tales of New England (1890)
  • Strangers and Wayfarers (1890)
  • A Native of Winby (1893)
  • The Life of Nancy (1895)
  • Betty Leicester's English Christmas (1897; for children)
  • The Queen's Twin (1899)
  • The Tory Lover (1901; a novel)

A complete list of Jewett's published and unpublished novels and short stories is available through The Sarah Orne Jewett Text Project (Coe College, Iowa), with links to about 100 of them, as well as a short Jewett biography.

Best Stories of Sarah Orne Jewett (1988) contains an excellent introductory article on Jewett's writings. For biographical information, read Sarah Orne Jewett: A Writer's Life, by Elizabeth Silverthorne (1993) or Master Smart Woman: Sarah Orne Jewett, a juvenile biography by Cynthia L. Keyworth.

Many of Jewett's stories are available at Donna Campbell's website at Washington State University.

Jewett's 40 poems are collected in a 1999 volume titled The Complete Poems of Sarah Orne Jewett.

Last Update: 09/04/2007

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