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Sarah Orne Jewett: Introduction and Chronology

Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909), an American fiction writer contemporary with Mark Twain, grew up in South Berwick, Maine, where she lived much of her life. After establishing herself as a short story writer for adults and young people, she formed a close friendship with Annie Fields, wife of the publisher James T. Fields. After Mr. Fields' death in 1881, Jewett and Annie Fields lived and traveled together for the rest of Jewett's life. With Mrs. Fields, Jewett formed friendships with a number of the major artists and intellectuals of her time, including Madame Thérèse Blanc, Willa Cather, Mary Ellen Chase, William Dean Howells, Henry James, Alice G. Howe, Rudyard Kipling, Rose Lamb, Alice Meynell, Harriet P. Spofford, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Celia Thaxter, Mrs. Humphrey Ward, Sarah Wyman Whitman, and John Greenleaf Whittier. Jewett's best known works are "A White Heron," a short story, and The Country of the Pointed Firs, a novella.
    Jewett's fiction is characterized by intimate views of characters' lives, the growth and trials of friendship, and a good deal of humor, both broad and subtle.

Chronology of Sarah Orne Jewett's Life

1849 (3 September) Born in South Berwick, Maine, the second of three daughters of Dr. Theodore H. Jewett and Caroline Perry Jewett.

1860 Paternal grandfather, Theodore F. Jewett, dies.

1865 Graduated from Berwick Academy, completing formal education.

1868 First story published: "Jenny Garrow's Lovers."

1869 First publication in Atlantic Monthly: "Mr. Bruce."

1877 First book, Deephaven, a collection of related sketches.

1878 September 20. Dr. Jewett, father, dies.

1880 Begins important lifelong friendship with Boston literary figure, Annie Fields (1834-1915). After her husband, James T. Fields, dies in 1881, Fields and Jewett live together during parts of each year and travel widely in Europe and America. Together they meet and visit with a number of prominent contemporary writers including: Alfred Tennyson, Christina Rossetti, Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, Henry James, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, John Greenleaf Whittier, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Marie Thérèse Blanc.

1882 First trip to Europe.

1884 A Country Doctor, first novel published. Dr. Leslie, the title character, is based on her father.

1891 October 21. Caroline Perry Jewett, mother, dies after a long illness.

1892 Second trip to Europe.

1896 Cruises among Caribbean islands; publishes The Country of the Pointed Firs, generally considered her best single work.

1897 Younger sister, Caroline Jewett Eastman dies.

1898 Third trip to Europe.

1900 Fourth trip to Europe.

1901 The first woman to receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Bowdoin College.

1902 Injured in a carriage accident on her birthday, she is incapacitated for the rest of her life. Though she continues writing letters and visiting, she cannot sustain the necessary attention for writing fiction.

1904 "A Spring Sunday," last story published in her lifetime.

1908 Meets and corresponds with Willa Cather.

1909 June 24. Dies at her home in South Berwick.

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