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Maine Writers Index - Detail   (Return to List)

Kate Douglas Wiggin (1856 - 1923)

Image of Kate Douglas Wiggin
Kate Douglas Wiggin
(1856 - 1923)
Genre: Children's Literature

Born in Philadelphia on 28 Sept. 1856, Wiggin was raised there and in Portland and Hollis, Maine, and she lived in Hollis for years, although she died (on 24 Aug. 1923) in Harrow, England. She attended the Gorham Female Seminary, the Morison Academy (Baltimore), and the Abbott Academy (Andover, Mass.). In 1873 she moved with her family to Santa Barbara, Calif., where eventually Wiggin directed a private kindergarten. Wiggin and her sister Nora Archibald Smith together established the California Kindergarten Training School. Wiggin herself was head of the Silver Street Kindergarten until she married lawyer Samuel B. Wiggin in 1881. They moved to New York City in 1884. After her husband died in 1889, Wiggin moved back to Hollis, where she wrote the children's book Timothy's Quest (1890; made into a silent movie and shown locally now at the Saco River Grange Hall in Hollis) and the adult novel The Village Watch-Tower (1895). She traveled widely and remarried in 1895 to George C. Riggs, a New York businessman.

Wiggin is best known for her children's books, such as The Birds' Christmas Carol (1887/1889), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1903; later a motion picture, 1917, a silent version with Mary Pickford; 1932; and 1938 with Shirley Temple), and The New Chronicles of Rebecca (1907). Her other works include:

  • The Story of Patsy (1883/1889; for children)
  • Timothy's Quest (1890; for children, set in Buxton)
  • The Story Hour (1890, with her sister Nora)
  • Polly Oliver's Problem (1893; for children)
  • A Cathedral Courtship (1893)
  • The Village Watch-Tower (1895; set in Hollis; for adults)
  • The Republic of Childhood (1895-96, with Nora; three volumes on the Froebelian kindergarten practice)
  • Marm Lisa (1896)
  • Hymns for Kindergarteners (18??; edited anthology)
  • Penelope's Progress (1898)
  • Penelope's English Experiences (1900)
  • Penelope's Irish Experiences (1901)
  • The Diary of a Goose Girl (1902)
  • The Posy Ring - A Book of Verses for Children (1903)
  • The Affair at the Inn (1904)
  • Rose O' the River (1905)
  • The Old Peabody Pew: A Christmas Romance of a Country Church (1907)
  • Pinafore Palace: A Book of Rhymes for the Nursery (1907)
  • Susanna and Sue (1909): Children's story of a little girl and her mother who find refuge in a Shaker settletment
  • Arabian Nights, Their Best Known Tales (1909)
  • Mother Carey's Chickens (1911): Children's story. When the widow Mrs. Carey is forced to put up the family's new house in Maine for sale, her daughters try to scare off potential buyers by claiming that the domicile is haunted. Made into a movie of the same name (1938), and remade as Summer Magic in 1963.
  • The Story of Waitstill Baxter (1913).
  • Penelope's Postscripts (1915)
  • Ladies in Waiting (1918)
  • The Romance of a Christmas Card (1919)
  • Homespun Tales (1920)

In 1925, her sister Nora published a book about Wiggin called As Her Sister Knew Her. Wiggin finished her autobiography, My Garden of Memory, in 1923 and it was published after she died. Bowdoin College awarded her an honorary degree in 1904 and provides an online collection guide to Wiggin's personal papers.

Last Update: 09/04/2007

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