Main Contents & Search
        Correspondence
1870    1872

Sarah Orne Jewett Letters of 1871



William Dean Howells to SOJ


[Atlantic Monthly]
Boston  March 5th 1871

Dear Madam:

            We have just been reading your Story of the Shore House* with the pleasure which all your sketches give us, and yet we have felt that it is worth[y] of a better story than you have set in it.  Can't you think of something else to place in that charming house -- something a little more picturesque and romantic?  As it [is] the descriptive character of the paper altogether overbalances the narrative, and the reader who has somehow been led to expect incident feels a disappointment in the end.  You could make more of your present plot; introduce the Kews practically, and the Dockums and expand the facts to dramatic proportions.  Pray let us hear from you.

                Yours respectfully

                    The Editors

                                                                                     

Notes

Story of the Shore House:  Jewett's second piece to appear in Atlantic Monthly was "The Shore House" in September 1873.  This story later became part of Deephaven (1877).

A note on this transcription reads:   [copy made by MRJ for WDH].  This text is from transcriptions from mixed repositories, Letters from Sarah Orne Jewett, 1875-1890, folder 63, Burton Trafton Jewett Research Collection. For more information about the individual transcription, contact the Maine Women Writers Collection. Notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.




William Dean Howells to SOJ

[Atlantic to SOJ]
Boston March 11, 1871

Dear Madam:

    By all means make a sketch of your story* if you don't feel secure of your powers of invention.  But in doing this pray remember that you will have to develop character very fully. -- much more fully than you have done in the piece as it stands.  Perhaps also it would be well to curtail some of the preliminary passages.  Give ample accounts of the old house, the seafaring and lighthouse people as you propose.  I return you the manuscript by this post for your revision. When you come next to Boston, pray let me know, and I will try to call upon you.  Or if you have not time to send me your address and in your leisure feel compassion enough for a busy man to waive ceremony will you come out to Cambridge to see me?  I live in Berkeley St. one door from Phillips Place (Garden St. car) and my name is that of your obedient servant

    W. D. Howells --


Miss Jewett


Notes

sketch of your story:  It appears Jewett has queried Howells about a new approach to the story that would be her second piece to appear in Atlantic Monthly, "The Shore House" in September 1873.  This story later became part of Deephaven (1877).

A note on this transcription reads: [copies of 2 letters by MRJ for Miss WDH]. This text is from transcriptions from mixed repositories, Letters from Sarah Orne Jewett, 1875-1890, folder 63, Burton Trafton Jewett Research Collection. For more information about the individual transcription, contact the Maine Women Writers Collection. Notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.



SOJ to William Dean Howells

[ 17 October 1871 ]

My dear Mr. Howells

    I cannot wait any longer before writing you a note to thank you for "Their Wedding Journey."*  I am enjoying it so much and this last number is so good!  It seems unnecessary, though, for you to improve, for people were so satisfied before -- and there are so many dear stupid writers who will go on and on in the same fashion till they die.  I have taken great pleasure in the November number for I had been quite low-spirited!  Berwick has grown quite uninteresting to me for once in its life, and everybody is distressingly grown-up and I have 'nobody to play with.'  I have been writing some children's stories for the Independent, and the state of my mind is shadowed forth in the last one, "Half-done Polly,"* which is severely moral.  I daresay you will not be able to account for my telling you this, but I suppose it is another illustration of your "pleasures of autobiography so dear to all of us"* --  I don't know if I have quoted it right but it made a great impression upon me.  I once went over part of the "Wedding Journeyin'" route myself and I have enjoyed that part particularly.  I have grown very ambitious of late and wonder continually if by any possibility I shall write so charmingly by and by.  I am diverting myself at present by reading Froude' s History* but I find myself planning my 'fall campaign' in the midst of important acts of Parliament and it goes off slowly!

Sarah O. Jewett

South Berwick,
17th Oct. 1871


Notes

"Their Wedding Journey":  Howells's first novel, Their Wedding Journey, began to appear serialized in Atlantic Monthly 28, in July 1871.

"Half-done Polly":  Jewett's story appeared in The Independent 23 (October 5, 1871), and was collected in Play Days (1878).

"pleasures of autobiography so dear to all of us":  This phrase appears in Part 3 of Their Wedding Journey: Atlantic Monthly 28 (September 1871), p. 348.

Froude' s History:  In a letter of May 12, 1872, Jewett reports reading History of Elizabeth in James Anthony Froude, History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Death of Elizabeth (London, 1856-1870, 12 vols.

This text is from transcriptions from mixed repositories, Letters from Sarah Orne Jewett, 1875-1890, folder 63, Burton Trafton Jewett Research Collection. For more information about the individual transcription, contact the Maine Women Writers Collection. Notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.


Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College.

Main Contents & Search
  Correspondence