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Sarah Orne Jewett Name Confusion

     Sarah Orne Jewett was not the only celebrated Sara(h) Jewett of her time. Richard Cary in Sarah Orne Jewett Letters (1967) says:

Sara Jewett (1847-1899) was the leading lady of Augustin Daly's Union Square Theatre Company. Miss Jewett of South Berwick recounts drolly that upon several occasions during her travels she was mistaken for Miss Jewett of New York, then considered one of the most beautiful women in America. In an ironic extension of the parallel, illness and enforced retirement became the lot of both thespian and literary Jewett. Sara Jewett's last appearance as an actress took place in the spring of 1883. (46)


     An anecdote of multiple confusions appears in Jane Kirkland Graham's Viola, The Duchess of New Dorp, A Biography of Viola Roseboro' (Danville: Illinois Printing Co., 1955):

At this time Sara Jewett was attracting attention as an actress, and the Public was unaware that Miss Jewett was (as Viola was convinced) also Sarah Orne Jewett, the author of distinguished fiction. Writing on artistic versatility, V. R. [Viola Roseboro'] herself an amateur actress and writer, declared angrily that artists "whom you would think would at least care for all the domains of art, generally know almost nothing of any but their own field." In the Daily American, June 8, 1882, she gave, as an example of such narrowness of information, the amusing blunder, as she called it, of a critic on the New York Herald, who
"was reviewing some one of the numerous recent little books about Mr. [Henry Wadsworth] Longfellow, and quoted a sentence in which it was said that Mr. Longfellow had admired and encouraged Miss Sarah Jewett, both as an actress and as an author; whereupon the critic, putting his mental thumbs in his mental waistcoat arm holes, gravely remarked that there seemed to be no effort made to verify the statements made in this work, and the author 'evidently confused the "leading lady" of one of our theatres with Miss Sarah O. Jewett, the poet'. I had once remarked that it was dispiriting to find among Miss Jewett's friends and admirers, scarcely any who knew the dual character of her artistic work, high as she stands in each field and widely as she is known in each. Undismayed in its efforts to set people right generally, this same enterprising journal followed up the Jewett blunder by rebuking a West Point cadet for saying the Yosemite Valley is in California, which from a great journal is delightful, and not unworthy of the London Times." (223-4)



Thanks to Merrill Skaggs, Drew University, for calling attention to these materials.

Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College.


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