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1885    1887
Sarah Orne Jewett Letters of 1886

SOJ to Annie Adams Fields

          Home, Saturday afternoon [Early 1886].

     Mr. Howells thinks that this age frowns upon the romantic, that it is no use to write romance any more; but dear me, how much of it there is left in every-day life after all. It must be the fault of the writers that such writing is dull, but what shall I do with my "White Heron"* now she is written? She isn't a very good magazine story, but I love her, and I mean to keep her for the beginning of my next book and the reason for Mrs. Whitman's pretty cover. In the meantime I will simply state that the next story is called "Marsh Rosemary," and I made it up as I drove to the station in Wells this morning. It deals with real life. Somehow dear, dull old Wells is a first-rate place to find stories in. Do you remember how we drove up that long straight road across the marshes last summer? It was along there the Marsh Rosemary grew.

     I have been reading an old copy of Donne's poems* with perfect delight. They seem new to me just now, even the things I knew best. We must read many of them together. I must have my old copy mended; it is quite shabby, with its label lost and leaves working out from the binding.


"White Heron": A White Heron and Other Stories appeared in 1886; the volume included the title story and "Marsh Rosemary," which had appeared first in May 1886.

Donne's poems
: John Donne (1572-1631), English metaphysical poet and essayist.

This letter appears in Annie Fields, Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett (1911),  Transcribed by Annie Adams Fields, with notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Mellen Chamberlain

Charles Street, Boston, May 1, 1886 to Mellen Chamberlain

            I was much shocked to see the notice of Mrs. Chamberlain's death for I did not know that she had been ill. At such a time your friends can only offer their sympathy and dare to say little else but I hope that you will let me tell you how sorry I am for your great loss and sorrow ...


This letter, transcribed by John Alden, originally appeared in Boston Public Library Quarterly 9 (1957): 86-96.  It is reprinted here courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library/Rare Books.

SOJ to Louisa Loring Dresel

May 1886
[In another hand]*

                Monday afternoon

My dear Loulie

    I have been hoping ever since I came down that I should either see you here or at Beverly but I unfortunately brought an attack of sciatica with me and was very lame with it the first few days and lately Mrs. Fields* has had a very bad cold (which she got in town not here) and we have only been able to take one short drive.

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    I had forgotten that you were to sail so soon, and we have been thinking that we should see you in town once more after we got back.  I shall indeed send many good wishes after you dear Loulie, and I hope that you will be able to gain a great deal and give a great deal too in this summer of rest and change.  You are very lucky to be so sensible and resigned about going -- I was in

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a sad state of mind when I went over but then that was my first voyage and it seemed a great step!  It is so pleasant to hear about the new house and I hope the thriving relatives of the little trees will not be so few as you expect --  Jack* was quite pathetic wasnt he?  I think Roger* will be dreadfully disappointed not to to see him as he had the promise of going over.  Patrick* has not been

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with us and Roger has been perfectly devoted and delightful.  I think his friendship with Patrick has been a great education of his sympathies ! ! !

    Dear girl there are a great many things that I should like to say, but not with pen and ink, somehow though they can say a great deal.  Mrs. Fields and I both send much love to Mrs. Dresel and you must please to tell her that I will attend to the [ stove's ?] being sent within a day or two when I am writing my sister and can

[ Up the left margin of page 1]

send a message by her.  Much love to yourself from A. F. & me and a pleasant voyage to you.

Yours always affectionately.

Sarah O. Jewett

[ Up the left margin of page 2]

And thank your mother for her dear letter to me.


May 1886:  The rationale for this date is not known, but it is a reasonable choice, there being other reports in letters more certainly from 1886 of the relationship between the Fields and Jewett dogs.

Mrs. Fields:  Annie Adams Fields, A. F. See Correspondents.

Jack ... Roger ... Patrick:  Jack would appear to be the Dresel dog; Roger is Jewett's dog.  Patrick Lynch, according to Richard Cary, was an employee of Annie Fields.

The manuscript of this letter is held by Columbia University Libraries Special Collections in the Sarah Orne Jewett letters,  Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College, from a Columbia University Libraries microfilm copy of the manuscript.

SOJ to Mellen Chamberlain

South Ber­wick, June 9, 1886

            Do you think that I could have one of the students desks at the Library next week to look over some books about Normandy etc? I have been doing one of the "Stories of the Nations" series for the Putnams in N. Y. and meant to have it done long ago, but I was sick all the latter part of the winter. Now I must hurry and it would save so much time if I could have the rest of the books I want in a nice heap instead of getting them here with more or less difficulty.
            Will it give you too much trouble to tell me who [sic] I shall go to at the Library to ask about the books, etc.   I want particularly to see the plates from the Bayeux tapestry (there are some edited by Bruce I believe) and Cotman's Architectural Antiquities of Nor­mandy.*
            But I will not trouble you with the whole list now.
            I hope that you and Mrs. Chamberlain are well. It seems a long time since we had a meeting at the Cove! ...

the Bayeux tapestry ... edited by Bruce ... Cotman's Architectural Antiquities of Nor­mandy: Jewett is working on The Story of the Normans.  

The Bayeux Tapestry Elucidated by John Collingwood Bruce appeared in 1856.  Architectural Antiquities of Nor­mandy by John Sell Cotman appeared in 1822.

This letter, transcribed by John Alden, originally appeared in Boston Public Library Quarterly 9 (1957): 86-96.  It is reprinted here courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library/Rare Books.  Notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Annie Adams Fields

     Thursday evening, [probably June 1886 and/or October 1897].*

     This table is so overspread with the story of the Normans that I can hardly find room to put my paper down on it. I started in for work this afternoon, having been on the strike long enough, as one might say; but I only did a little writing, for I found that I must read the whole thing through, I have forgotten so much of it.

     Do read Miss Preston's paper about Pliny the younger in the "Atlantic." It is full of charming things, and as readable as possible. It sent me to my old favorite, the elder Pliny's "Natural History," but I couldn't find it in any of the book-cases downstairs, and I was too lazy to go up for it. Oh, you should see the old robin by my bed-room window a-fetching up her young family! I long to have you here to watch the proceedings. She is a slack housekeeper that robin, for the blown-away ruffles that she wove into her nest have suffered so much from neglect, combined with wind and weather, that they ravel out in unsightly strings. But oh, the wide mouths of the three young ones, -- how they do reach up and gape altogether when she comes near the nest with a worm! How can she attend to the mural decorations of her home? I am getting to be very intimate with the growing family. I hate every pussy when I think what a paw might do. I waited by the window an hour at tea-time, spying them.

     I have finished "Pendennis" with deep regret, for I have enjoyed it enormously. It is truly a great story, more simple and sincere and inevitable than "Vanity Fair."* It seems as much greater than Tolstoi's "Anna Karenina"* as it is more full of true humanity. It belongs to a more developed civilization, to a far larger interpretation of Christianity. But people are not contented at reading "Pendennis" every few years and with finding it always new as they grow more able to understand it. Thackeray is so great, a great Christian. He does not affect, he humbly learns and reverently tries to teach out of his own experience. "Pendennis" belongs to America just now more than it belongs to England, but we must forget it and go and read our Russian. Yes, he has a message too, but most people understand it so little that he amuses them and excites their wonder like Jules Verne.*

     I am writing before breakfast. I have finished "Hugh Wynne"* and loved it, with its fresh air and manliness, and -- to me -- exquisite charm. Don't you know what Tennyson said: "I love those large still books!"


1896:  Annie Fields dates this letter in 1886.  David Schuster points out the inconsistency between the publication date of Mitchell's Hugh Wynne (1896) and the apparent date of this letter.  Furthermore, the quotation from Tennyson at the end of the letter comes from letters of Edward Fizgerald published in 1895 (see below). Mitchell's novel was serialized in Century Magazine (November 1896 through October 1897). Jewett seems quite definite that she has finished reading the whole book; therefore the final two paragraphs could not have been written before October of 1897.
    However, the first two paragraphs could come from spring of 1886.  Jewett reports trying to return to work on The Normans, which appeared at the end of 1886, and the Preston paper she recommends appeared in June 1886.  Jewett reports researching on Normans as early as 1885 in a "Monday Evening" letter to Fields. 
    While it is possible that she has forgotten work she was doing a year or more earlier, she sounds as if she is returning to writing she has completed before after being "on strike."  This might suggest that she is working not on the original book, but on a later related piece, such as "England After the Norman Conquest," prepared for an 1891 Chautauqua course on British History and Literature. Based on her history, this piece appeared in The Chautauquan 12 (1891):438-442, 574-578, 707-711,  for an 1891 Chautauqua course on British History and Literature.
    However, the first two paragraphs seem clearly to have been written in the spring, when robin hatchlings are being fed.  It is possible that Jewett was working on the Chautauqua piece six months before it was due, but we know that she did not start work on minor revisions to The Normans until December of 1890 (See G. H. Putnam's letter to Jewett of December 17, 1890).
    To add to this confusion, Jewett again reports reading Thackeray's Pendennis in what seems almost certainly to be the autumn of 1887, when she is reading proof for "Law Lane," which appeared in December 1887: See her letter, Sunday evening, [Autumn] 1887.

    Until we are able to see the original manuscript(s), it would seem we cannot confidently explain this letter.  For this reason, it appears in two different years: 1886 and 1897.

Miss Preston's paper about Pliny the younger in the "Atlantic": Harriet Waters Preston (1836-1911), a writer and translator, was one of those from whom Jewett sought advice early in her career. See Blanchard, pp. 108-9. Pliny, the Younger (62-113) was a Roman official who published several volumes of official and private letters that provide rich pictures of aspects of Roman life. Preston's article was "A Roman Gentleman under the Empire," Atlantic 57 (June 1886) 741-761.

Pliny's "Natural History": Pliny the Elder (c. 23-79) was a Roman encyclopedist. His "Natural History" consisted of 37 books, ten published in his lifetime, on all aspects of contemporary science.

Pendennis ... Vanity Fair: William Makepeace Thackeray, an English fiction writer, published Vanity Fair in 1847-8 and Pendennis in 1848-50.

Tolstoi's "Anna Karenina": The Russian novelist, Count Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) published his novel, Anna Karenina 1875-1877.

Jules Verne: French author Jules Verne (1828-1905) is considered one of the inventors of science fiction. Many of his novels have been adapted to film, including Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870, Eng. trans. 1873) and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873, Eng. trans. 1873).

"Hugh Wynne": Hugh Wynne, Free Quaker (1896) is a novel by Silas Weir Mitchell, M.D. (1829-1914), perhaps best remembered for his "rest cure" for hysteria.   This novel was first published as a serial in Century Magazine, November 1896 - October 1897.
    The quotation from Tennyson appears in Letters of Edward FitzGerald to Fanny Kemble (1871-1883), by Edward FitzGerald (1895), p. 138.

This letter appears in Annie Fields, Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett (1911),  Transcribed by Annie Adams Fields, with notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Annie Adams Fields

     Thursday morning.[ June 1886 ]*


     I shall have to write you the same sort of letter as Selborne's White wrote to the Hon. Daines Barrington,* for there doesn't seem to be anything to tell, except how things grow and what birds have come and how things don't grow and what the birds do. There is one adorable golden robin in one of the garden elms, who shouts "Pitty, pitty, pitty!" all day long like a delighted child, -- you will be so pleased to make that cheerful bird's acquaintance when you come. (I don't feel very certain about the time when I shall go to you. It depends upon how much I can do today and tomorrow, and it also depends upon how things are here, and what news I get from Judge Chamberlain,* to whom I have been writing about a desk at the Public Library. But if I don't go Saturday, I certainly must be no later than Monday, for I must get a good deal done next week. I am trying to get to a certain point in the story here, and then be free to forget that part and to do the chapters about the cathedral, etc., while I am away.) I can't say enough about the Ruskin biography.* I can hardly wait to have you know it, too. He is after our own heart in his affection for Dr. Johnson. Next week, if we have some time for reading, do let us take some of Mr. Arnold's papers that we have been putting off, and some of the poems. It seems like cramming, but I was so sorry I was not more familiar with certain parts of his work when I saw him before.* But some things of his we know as well as we know anything -- thank goodness!

     Yesterday I was busy both morning and afternoon, and got on much better than the day before, and I hope it will be the same to-day. I was reading "Two Years Before the Mast"* in the evening, with new admiration for its gifts. It seems to me as much a classic as anything we have to give, -- it has exceptional charm in the way it is done, with perfectly genuine qualities. There is so little that is usually thought interesting to tell, and yet I could hardly skip a page.

     What did you think of G. Sand's letter to Madame d'Agoult,* -- that long letter at the beginning of the book? I couldn't bear to have you read it without standing by and seeing how you liked it. Nothing ever made me feel that I really know Madame Sand as that letter did.


[June 1886]:  Jewett had written to Judge Mellen Chamberlain (see note below) about securing a desk at the Boston Public Library for her research on The Story of the Normans (1887) on June 9.

Selborne's White wrote to the Hon. Daines Barrington
: Gilbert White (1720-1793), though a fellow at Oriel College, Oxford, lived most of his life at Selbourne, in England, as a curate, where he could follow his avocations of naturalist and writer. His correspondence with Daines Barrington grew into the Natural History and Antiquities of Selbourne (1788). Daines Barrington (1727-1800) was a naturalist and historian interested in the exploration of the North Pole. His publications include Miscellanies (c. 1900), essays on various subjects, and several books on North Pole exploration.

Judge Chamberlain ... a desk at the Public Library: Mellen Chamberlain, according to Paula Blanchard, was a Boston municipal judge and an amateur historian to whom Jewett turned for advice about her writing early in her career. He was director of the Boston Public Library from 1878 to 1890. (See Blanchard 63)

the Ruskin biography: John Ruskin (1819-1900) was an English art and literary critic and social reformer. It is difficult to know which Ruskin biography she was reading. Ruskin's partial autobiography is Praeterita (1886-89). But it is possible Jewett was reading William Smart (1853-1915), John Ruskin: His Life and Work: Inaugural Address Delivered Before the Ruskin Society of Glasgow (1879).

Mr. Arnold's papers ... when I saw him before:  Matthew Arnold (24 December 1822 - 15 April 1888) visited the United States and Annie Fields in 1883-4 and again in 1886.

"Two Years Before the Mast": Richard Henry Dana (1815-1882) published Two Years Before the Mast in 1840. He was a lawyer by profession and a graduate of Harvard College.

G. Sand's letter to Madame d'Agoult: This letter appears in George Sand's Correspondance 1812-1876 (Paris 1882), in six volumes. Richard Cary says in "Jewett to Dresel: 33 Letters," Colby Quarterly 11 (March 1975) 13-49, "Countess Marie de Flavigny d'Agoult is remembered for eloping with Franz Liszt and bearing his child, and as the author of History of the Revolution of 1848 under her pseudonym Daniel Stern."   Though it is not impossible that Jewett and Fields read Sand's letters in French, they are more likely to have read the English translation, Letters of George Sand, translated by Raphael Ledos de Beaufort, (London: Ward and Downey, 1886).

This letter appears in Annie Fields, Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett (1911),  Transcribed by Annie Adams Fields, with notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Annie Adams Fields

Thursday night,   [June 1886]*

     This morning I read Mr. Arnold's "Nineteenth Century" paper* with great joy. What a great man he is! That holds the truth of the matter if anything does. It is all very well to say, as Mr. Blaine does, "What business has England?"* The association of different peoples is after all beyond human control: we are "mixed and sorted" by a higher power. And looked at from the human side, what business has one nation to keep another under her authority, but the business of the stronger keeping the weaker in check when the weaker is an enemy? It had to be settled between England and Ireland certainly -- for the two races were antagonistic, and England could not have said "no matter, she may plague me and fight me as she pleases." Law and order come in, and Ireland has a right to complain of being badly governed, -- so has a child or any irresponsible person, but we can't question the fact that they must be governed. Ireland is backward, and when she is equal to being independent, and free to make her own laws, I suppose the way will be opened, and she will be under grace of herself, instead of tutors and governors in England. Everybody who studies the case, as Mr. Arnold has, believes that she must still be governed. I don't grow very sentimental about Ireland's past wrongs and miseries. If we look into the history of any subject country, or indeed of any country at all, the suffering is more likely to be extreme that length of time ago, and I think as Mr. Arnold does, and as Mr. Lowell did, that the mistake of our time is in being governed by the ignorant mass of opinion, instead of by thinkers and men who know something. How great that was of Gladstone, "He has no foresight because he has no insight." Mr. Arnold never said a wiser thing, and when he says that Gladstone will lead his party (after describing what the party lacks) by watching their minds and adapting his programme and using his ease of speech to gain the end -- He is a party leader, and not a statesman. Doesn't it seem as if it must fret a man like Arnold to the quick to go on saying things as he has and seeing people ignore them, then dispute them, then say that they were God's truth, when the whole thing has become a matter of history and it is too late to have them do the immediate good be hoped to effect?


1886:  Fields places this letter in 1884.  However as the notes below indicate, Jewett must have written it after the appearance in May 1886 of the Matthew Arnold essay she mentions and probably after James G. Blaine's June 1 speech on Irish home-rule.

Mr. Arnold's "Nineteenth Century" paper
: Jewett quotes from Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), "The Nadir of Liberalism," Nineteenth Century 19:111 (May 1886), 645-663, when she admires his observation that Gladstone lacks foresight because he lacks insight.  Therefore, it is virtually certain that Fields has incorrectly dated this letter.  Almost certainly it was written after 1 June 1886.

     In "The Nadir of Liberalism," Arnold critiques the Irish home rule proposal of William E. Gladstone (1809-1898), who was Liberal prime minister of England four times during a long and illustrious political career.  Arnold wrote his essay in the context of Gladstone's third, short term as prime minister in 1886, when he came to power by uniting the Liberal and the Irish members of parliament around a proposal for Irish home rule.  In the essay, Arnold argues that the proposal for home rule was deeply flawed for several reasons.  A better long-term solution to the antagonism between Ireland and England would be to develop and follow policies that would create friendship between the two peoples, and that such policies must recognize the festering injustices resulting from past English failures to curb the abuses of absentee landlords and to allow the Irish to have their own established church.
    Jewett's reading of this essay may have been colored by her current work on The Story of the Normans (1887), so that she saw contemporary England and Ireland as replaying the 11th-century antagonism between Normans and Saxons.  Her assertions that the Irish are backward, childish, and incapable of self-rule, do not in fact square with Arnold's opinions in the essay, and particularly with his views in an earlier two-part essay, "The Incompatibles" which appeared in The Nineteenth Century in April and June of 1881 and was collected in Irish Essays and Others in 1882.  In that earlier essay, Arnold argues that in many cases, as decades and centuries pass after a military conquest, like the Norman conquest of 1066, affairs settle down, the injustices of conquest are forgotten, and the conquered and conquerors come to live together amicably.  This, however, is not what has happened in Ireland, because the English have for centuries renewed the original pain of conquest, keeping the wounds fresh.  Jewett seems to misunderstand Arnold's argument at this time.  Perhaps by the time she began her series of Irish stories with "The Luck of the Bogans" (1889), her thinking about the Irish as a people had changed.

Mr. Blaine ... "What business has England?": The Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia says, "The most popular Republican of his time, James Gillespie Blaine (1830-1893), of Maine, served as U.S. congressman, senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate. He was an important architect of his party's electoral success during the 1880s and '90s." On June 1, 1886, Blaine gave a speech in Portland, Me. in which he advocated passage of Gladstone's Irish home-rule bill then being debated in the English parliament.  In that speech, Blaine does not ask literally "What business has England" to rule Ireland, but that question summarizes well one of his main points.  The text of his speech, as printed in a New Zealand newspaper appears here.

This letter appears in Annie Fields, Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett (1911),  Transcribed by Annie Adams Fields, with notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to John Geenleaf Whittier

South Berwick

Thursday morning

[Summer 1886]

My dear Friend:

     A. F. has sent me your letter and I wish so much that I could go at once and make you a little visit, but I have just come back from town after finishing the history1 (very badly!) and now my sister is going away. We do not like to be away together this summer. Why can’t you stop here as you go back? There are hills enough for a gentle let­down from Holderness and you and I would have a beautiful quiet time and take a drive down Sligo way and across the Sligo bridge and home by Pound Hill. Mother and I are alone and it would be such a pleasure. You should not do anything you did not want to do, and our good John Tucker, and my Uncle William2 over in the old house, would save you from keeping company altogether with "the women folks." Do come! You shall have some cherries like Mrs. Fields's for every meal!

     I am so sorry to disappoint you about coming to Asquam. I really would go if I could.

 Yours affectionately,

S. O. J.

 You need not stop to give notice -- just "drop down" any day. I shall love my dear old home all the more if you will come to it once and then again.


1 The Story of the Normans, Told Chiefly in Relation to Their Conquest of England (New York and London, 1887). Despite Miss Jewett's demurrer, the book proved to be popular, running into several editions in both the United States and England.

2 William Durham Jewett (1813-­1887), her father's brother, was a childless widower who made much of his nieces. He kept the West Indian Store on Main Street in South Berwick and was later president of two banks.

 This letter was transcribed and annotated by Richard Cary, and first published in  "'Yours Always Lovingly': Sarah Orne Jewett to John Greenleaf Whittier,"  Essex Institute Historical Collections 107 (1971): 412-50. This article was reprinted at the Sarah Orne Jewett Text Project by permission of the library of the American Antiquarian Society and the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

SOJ to Annie Adams Fields

     Friday evening, South Berwick [Summer 1886]. 

     Today has been very hot and I have read with great delight the book of Edwin Arnold's,* which I didn't send back after all, and I am most glad to have it. More than that I want you to read parts of it, for it is charmingly done, so modest and manly and wise, and when he gets to Ceylon all the Buddhists turn out to do him honor. He has a grave conference with an old priest, who thanks him for what he has done for Buddhism, and then Arnold asks him if there are any Mahatmas, to which the priest answers no, none at all! If we had better interpreters of Buddha's teaching we might reach heights and depths of power and goodness that are now impossible; but we have fallen from the old wisdom and none of us today are so advanced. There are all sorts of interesting things in this "India Revisited"; one is that the Mayflower was chartered for the East Indian trade after her Pilgrim experiences, and was sunk on her last voyage with a cargo of rice!!* I don't know why I found that so wildly interesting!!


1886:  Fields gives this letter an 1885 date, but as the note on Edwin Arnold indicates, Jewett could not have read his book on India until 1886.

book of Edwin Arnold's: Sir Edwin Arnold (1832-1904) published India Revisited in 1886.

Mayflower: The Mayflower is best known as the ship in which the Pilgrims traveled to form their colony at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620.

This letter appears in Annie Fields, Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett (1911),  Transcribed by Annie Adams Fields, with notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Louisa Loring Dresel

South Berwick
7 July 1886

My Dear Loulie

    I am not going to wait any longer for the chance of writing you a long letter.  These summer days fly by so fast and I grow busier and busier.  Luckily there is always time to think of ones friends and I have sent a good many thoughts flying across the sea after you.  I saw Elly* at Cambridge

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on Class Day and was so glad to have a nice little talk with him and to know that your summer had begun so pleasantly.  I was perfectly sure all the time that you would feel a great deal better!  I have a dreadful fear however that you will never tell me half so many things about your visits and journeys as if you did not have to come way from the end of Beacon St!  Let us mourn a little now for I am sure that

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there will be enough good things about the new house to console you a good deal for leaving the old one.  I was in town last week to see the Matthew Arnolds* and to do some writing at the Athenaeum & public library,* and Mrs. Fields and Patrick* and I built a neat tea-house halfway down your side of the garden.  You never saw the like of it, being composed of matting and "rustic" columns of hemlock poles.  We had

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afternoon tea there and there was a big rose bush in full bloom half inside it against the tea table and every body thought it was perfectly beautiful. Patrick disapproved at first but afterward admired it proudly and the Millet baby* finds it a pleasant shade --  It is really a lovely place in summer, that garden!

    -- I am hurrying my very best to get the Normen (as A. Longfellow calls them)* done by the first of August, but we are in

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the middle of the guest season and I have to make three people of myself every day.  The White Heron book* is on foot too but I take no thought of that at all, it seems such a trifle compared to the other.  On the seventeenth I am to meet Mrs. Fields at Mrs. Cabots and Miss Howes!* for a little visit and I look forward to that with great pleasure -- I am sure that you would be asked over to play with me if you were in Beverly.  See what

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a loss!

    Between you and me 'Elly' was very giddy on Class Day but we must never speak of it to others.  He was walking about with girls and said ^that^ he thought he ought to see Class Day because his own would be next year, and I accepted the pretty explanation and rejoiced that he was having such a good time.  He kindly sat with me for a short time and I was very glad to see

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him.  How long it seems already since you went away!

    I shall try to see Mrs. Dresel when I go to Beverly.  You must give my love to her when you write.  Have a good time Loulie dear and remember that I am always

Yours very affectionately

Sarah. O. Jewett


Elly at Cambridge on Class Day: Dresel's brother, Ellis Loring Dresel, had just completed is third year at Harvard in the summer of 1886.

the Matthew Arnolds:  The English poet and critic, Matthew Arnold  (24 December 1822 - 15 April 1888) visited the United States and Annie Fields in 1883-4 and again in 1886.

Athenaeum & public library:  Jewett did some of her research for The Story of the Normans (1887) at these two Boston libraries.

Mrs. Fields and Patrick:  Annie Adams Fields, and her employee, Patrick Lynch. See Correspondents.

Millet baby: It is likely that this is Laurence, a child of Francis Davis Millet (1848-1912), a Fields neighbor, who was a painter, sculptor and writer and who died aboard the RMS Titanic.  Millet and his wife, Elizabeth Greely Merrill had four children: Edwin Abby (1877-1881), Katherine Field (b. 1880), Laurence Frederick (1884-1945), and John Alfred Parsons (b. 1888).

the Normen (as A. Longfellow calls them):  Jewett's popular history, The Story of the Normans, appeared in 1887.  She refers here to Alice Mary Longfellow. See Correspondents.

The White Heron book:  Jewett's story collection, A White Heron and Other Stories  appeared in 1886.

Mrs. Cabots and Miss Howes:  Susan Burley Cabot.  See Correspondents.  The identity of Miss Howe remains uncertain.  Jewett was acquainted with Grace Howe (b. 1879), but this seems unlikely.  In her winter 1869 diary of a long stay is Cincinnati, OH, Jewett recounts social interactions with a Dr. and Mrs. Howe and Miss Howe (possibly their daughter), but these people have not been further identified, except to eliminate the prominent Dr. Andrew Jackson Howe, who had neither children nor an unmarried sister, so far as is known.

The manuscript of this letter is held by Columbia University Libraries Special Collections in the Sarah Orne Jewett letters,  Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College, from a Columbia University Libraries microfilm copy of the manuscript.

Annie Adams Fields to Eben Norton Horsford

South Berwick, Maine,

August 18th 1886

My dear kind friend:

Really when I think of all the directions in which your benevolence is exerted I wonder at the generous economy of your life.* You will be amused when I tell you, as I believe I usually have done! when you have surprised me with your benefactions, that I was just wondering how I should pull across a certain stream of needs which have been presenting themselves. Now, I wonder no longer, thanks to you, my dear kind friend.
    Sarah has written you, I believe, or Lilian that the physician has advised her to go to Richfield Springs,* whither we are now turning, and I much fear that our lateness in going there will prevent us from having the visit we have looked forward to at Shelter Island. You and Kate would have been interested to hear Mr. Philips Brooks say the other day, in a little talk I had with him just before I left town that the West [is] deeply interesting of course but in a way so totally different from any other part of the world just now: it has no past, he said, hardly any present: it is all future, and Hellen [meaning Helen ?] Hunt is in its mythology!! I am sure Kate would have joined me in the pleasure this little jeau d'esprit gave.
    I hope Kate will help Mr. Mabie in his Life of Miss Jackson by giving him portions of her letters in case he has not already more than he can use.
    You will have heard ere this I fancy that your friend Mr. Cushing, his family and his Indians are visiting Mrs. Hemenway at our beloved Manchester by the Sea. She has taken two houses there one of which she calls Casa Ramona. It is a secret!!! but as Zuni Indians cannot well travel in their war paint upon the Eastern Railroad without being seen, I know I may confide in you.
    We have heard of Mrs. Horsford's and Cornelia's gay times and triumphs in New York. I hope they enjoyed the change and are liking Shelter Island for it.
    Sarah sends her love with mine to you all.

    Believe me, affectionately yours
   Annie Fields.


Transcriber note:   Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) was one of the most popular and beloved clergymen in Boston from 1869 until his death, and Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts from 1891 to 1893. Helen Maria Fiske Hunt Jackson (1830-1885), an author transplanted from New England to the West and known for her championship of the American Indian, was a distant relation and close friend of the Horsfords.... Frank Hamilton Cushing (1875-1900)..., was a lifetime student of the American Indian and an employee of the Smithsonian Institute and the Bureau of American Ethnology. Ramona is the name of Helen Hunt Jackson's famous novel.

benevolence:  Professor Horsford regularly contributed funds to support Annie Fields's work with the Associated Charities of Boston.

Richfield SpringsRichfield Springs, NY, was known for its sulfur springs, where 19th-century patients sought relief for various conditions, rheumatism in Jewett's case.

Kate:  A Horsford daughter.  See Correspondents.

Mr. Mabie in his Life of Miss Jackson
:  "Hamilton Wright Mabie (1846 -1916) was an American essayist, editor, critic, and lecturer."  He was long associated with The Christian Union which later became Outlook and published several of Jewett's works.  Wikipedia.   Though Helen Hunt Jackson had requested that Mabie write her biography, and in the years following her death, many expected that he would, he did not.

visiting Mrs. Hemenway:  "Mary Porter Tileston Hemenway (1820 - 1894) was an American philanthropist. She sponsored the Hemenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition to the American southwest [first led by Frank H. Cushing], and opened the first kitchen in a public school in the US."  Wikipedia
    Anthropology News 1988 provides this sketch of  two Cushing trips East with Native Americans:  

In 1882, urged by his Zuni hosts and to further his own interests, Cushing came east with five Indians, four men from Zuni and one Hopi, who made appearances from Washington to Boston.  Cushing with his long blond hair and dressed in his Zuni (cum-Navajo) outfit -- for obvious reasons the Navajo called him “Many Buttons” -- attracted even more attention than his simply dressed Indian companions. In the course of the tour the group met Mary Hemenway. Four years later, when on sick leave back east, Cushing was offered a cottage on the Hemenway estate at Manchester, Massachusetts....
    Mrs Hemenway, her interest sustained and enlarged by Cushing, arranged for another visit from the Pueblos, this time Frank Hamilton Cushing in Indian garb ... and three Zuni men in August 1886.
Cushing's account of this 11 August to 12 October stay appears in The Lost Itinerary of Frank Hamilton Cushing (2002), 45 ff.

According to transcriber John W. Willoughby, the manuscript of this letter is in the possession of the family of Andrew Fiske, Eben Norton Horsford's great-grandson, "heir to Sylvester Manor, Horsford's Shelter Island estate, who graciously offered to share with the public the letters from Sarah Orne Jewett and Annie Fields to Eben Norton Horsford and his family."  This letter was published in John W. Willoughby, "Sarah Orne Jewett and Her Shelter Island: Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett and Annie Fields to Eben Norton Horsford,"  Confrontation (Long Island University) 8 (1974): 72-86.  Annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Samuel Sidney McClure

South-Berwick, Maine
24 August [ 1886 ]*

Dear Mr. McClure

    Then I shall expect a cheque from you on the 20th of September. -- you must not make me wait longer, for while the amount is not large I had made arrangements to use it for a special purpose and I am sorry to have it wait so long as that.  While I am

[ Page 2 ]

interested in your success, after my talk with you last winter, and have tried to do all I could to help you, I do not feel as if, even in a business way it would be quite right to do this thing again, and if I do any more work for you I must have my regular price and be paid at once.*  It would be so in any other business transaction

[ Page 3 ]

wouldn't it?  I believe most heartily in enterprise, but I am always afraid that you are not keeping [ deleted word ] firm ground under your feet, and that your constant enlargement of your business is only increasing the risk of it and decreasing your own percentage of profit.  Oughtn't you to have put a safe and profitable business in good order by this time? or is that exactly what you will have done by the first of October? -----

[ Page 4 ]

You see it troubles your writers and makes them lose a little confidence, and it has already given you a serious pull down in the way of illness.  Dont resent my unasked-for advice for indeed I mean it kindly, for your sake and your wife's.  I am sure she is not like my poor little Hattie* of the story!

Yours sincerely

S. O. Jewett


1886:  It is possible that Jewett composed this letter in 1885 and expected payment before "Stolen Pleasures" appeared in print.  However, the tone of the letter suggests that she has waited far longer for payment, until the following September, 1886.
paid at once:  Jewett published another syndicated story in March of 1886, "A Business Man."  The next syndicated piece was "New Neighbors" in October 1888.

Hattie:  Almost certainly, Jewett refers to Hattie Webber in her syndicated story, "Stolen Pleasures," which first appeared in October 1885.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Small Library, University of Virginia, Special Collections MSS 6218, Sarah Orne Jewett Papers.  Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Gertrude
Van Rensselaer Wickham

     Richfield, New York
     August 29, 1886

     My Dear Mrs. Wickham:*

     Indeed I have a dog1 and a very dear one of much and varied information and great dignity of character. His name is Roger and he is a large Irish setter with a splendid set of fringes to his paws and tail, and two eyes that ask more questions and make more requests than dogs I know. And it is nearly impossible to refuse his requests that he is quite in danger of being spoiled or would be if he were not so sensible. Once the Reverend J. G. Wood,2 who understands dog life as well as anybody in the world, asked us reproachfully while Roger lay before the library fire on a very soft rug, if he ever had to do anything he didn't like. And I felt for a long time afterward that I might be neglecting the dear dog's moral education.

     Roger spends his winters in Boston, where luckily he has a good-sized garden to run about in on the shore of the Charles River, but he likes to be taken out for a long walk and follows me so carefully and politely that I feel very much honoured and obliged. It is such a delight and such a touching thing to see what pleasure he gives the people in the shops, and I quite forget my errands sometimes in talking about him. Roger himself cannot help feeling how tired faces light up when he comes by on his four paws with wagging tail, and I am sure that he is very grateful to the tired hands that pat him -- and knows that he rouses a too uncommon feeling of common humanity and sympathy.

     But any mention of Roger without a word of his best friend, Patrick Lynch,3 would be incomplete. All his best loyalty and affection show themselves at the sound of Patrick's step -- for this means all outdoors, and the market, and long scurries about town and splashes in the frog-pond, and, more than that, it means one person that understands what Roger wants and why he wants it. Whether Patrick has learned dog-language or Roger knows how to whine English I really cannot tell, but it must be one or the other. All day Roger is expecting some sort of surprise and pleasure with this most congenial of his friends, but every evening he condescends to spend quietly with the rest of the family and comes tick-toeing along the hall floor and upstairs to the library, as if he were well aware that he conferred a real benefaction. Alas, there are sometimes bonnets outward bound which give him a great sorrow if he finds that, as often happens, he must stay at home. But if he is invited to go, what leaping and whining in noisy keys! What rushing along snowy streets! What treeing of unlucky pussies and scattering of wayfarers on account of his size and apparent fierceness!

     But the best place to see this dog is in the summer by the sea, where he runs about in the sunshine, shining like copper, and always begging somebody for a walk or barking at the top of a ledge for the sake of being occupied in some way! Mrs. Fields is more than ever his best mistress there, for she oftenest invites him to walk along the beach and chase sand peeps. Strange to say, this amusement never fails though the sand peeps always fly to seaward and disappoint their eager hunter.

     I hope that I have not said too much. I think your plan a charming one, and wish you great success.

     Yours sincerely,
     S. O. Jewett


Wickham was commissioned by St. Nicholas, a children's magazine, to write a series of three articles on "Dogs of Noted Americans," which appeared in the issues of June, July 1888 and May 1889. The account of Miss Jewett's dog, closely paraphrasing this letter, was published in the last (XVI, 544-545).

     1 Miss Jewett was seldom without at least one house pet. See "Sara Orne Jewett's Dog," St. Nicholas, XVI (May 1889), 544-545; "Some Literary Cats," St. Nicholas, XXVII (August 1900), 923-926; Fields, Letters, 46, 62, 66, 75, 101, 147; and Letters 130, 131 in this volume.

     2 John George Wood   (1827-1889) wrote some thirty books on botany, zoology, natural history, and Biblical animals, in which he studied minutely common objects of the country and seashore. In Man and Beast: Here and Hereafter (1874), Reverend Wood combined his vocation and avocation.

     3 In the employ of Mrs. Fields.

This letter was edited and annotated by Richard Cary in Sarah Orne Jewett Letters; the ms. is held by the Western Reserve Historical Society, Case Western University.

SOJ and Annie Adams Fields to Anna Loring Dresel

Richfield Springs*
6 September [1886]

Dear Mrs. Dresel*

    I send you a nice letter from Loulie but you cannot have it to keep!  Please put it away for me.

    We are very contented here and the rest and the baths together are so good

[ Page 2 ]

[The top 1/5 of this page is marked off with a line.  Above the line it reads: (this            was not my finger!)
There is a faint smudge between This and was.  Below the line, it reads as follows.]

that I already begin to feel more flourishing than for a great while before -- We like the country very much though several persons told us that it was uninteresting.  I am sure that you

[ Page 3 ]

would like it too and we both wish that you were here with us --  I suppose we shall stay a fortnight longer --  We hope to be in Manchester for a few days before winter but it seems irresponsible to say when!

    You must play that this hurried note is only

[ Page 4 ]

a kind of postscript to Loulie's!

Yours [affectionately corrected]
Sarah O. Jewett

[ Following on page 4 is a note from Annie Fields]

Dear Friend; I send this a dear chapter out of "the history of my life" by Loulie.

    We have [had corrected ] three good letters already from our M.G.L.* who is well and finding life beautiful indeed in green England.  Her neighbors the fishermen in [Boston ?] turned out with their engines to salute her when she went over*

[ Up the left margin of page 4 ]

Yours ever A.F.


Richfield Springs: Richfield Springs, NY, was known for its sulfur springs, where 19th-century patients sought relief for various conditions, rheumatism in Jewett's case.  As shown in Annie Adams Fields to Eben Norton Horsford 18 August 1886, Jewett and Fields traveled together to Richfield Springs in late August of 1886.

Dresel:  For information about Mrs. Dresel, see Louisa Loring Dresel in Correspondents.

M.G.L.:  Mary Greenwood Lodge. See Correspondents.

over:  The transcription of this sentence is uncertain.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Small Library, University of Virginia, Special Collections MSS 6218, Sarah Orne Jewett Papers.  Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Louisa Loring Dresel

South Berwick Maine
Wednesday 27 October
1886 ]*

My Dear Loulie

    I am afraid that this note will not arrive in time to be among the first of your welcomes home, but it is not the least of the welcomes for all that.  I did not know that you were on your way until you must have been nearly here.

[ Page 2 ]

    We were in Manchester for a day or two over a week, but I was [ aggravated corrected ] by a large round cold in my head and had to stay in the house altogether too much of the time for my liking.  Mrs. Fields* was very busy for there were some things to do about the place, so we "stayed by" as the sailors say.  Roger* had the best

[ Page 3 ]

holiday possible but I am sure he missed the [ gram-gram ? ] at Jack* to which he looked ^forward^ almost as much as we [ deleted word ] ^did to^ seeing Mrs. Dresel!

    Mrs. Fields came to Berwick with me, but she goes back to town tomorrow.  I shall miss her very much for we have been together an exceptionally long time.  We have had a lovely series of long walks here and are selfishly grieved at

[ Page 4 ]

rainy weather because it will make the fields so wet.  But I look for much sunshine in November -- you know it is my favorite month!

    I suppose you are very busy with the new new-house?  I wish you a most happy winter in it, dear Loulie.  Give my love to your mother and do not forget that I am your sincere and affectionate friend

Sarah O. Jewett.

When I see you I shall say "Now begin at the beginning!"


1886: This date appears in another hand, top left of page 1.  Though the rationale for this choice is not known, this is a reasonable date for this letter. 

Mrs. Fields:  Annie Adams Fields. See Correspondents.

Roger ... gram-gram ... Jack:  Jack would appear to be the Dresel dog, and gram-gram may be the fanciful name by which Roger, Jewett's dog, knows Mrs. Dresel or for encounters between the pets.

The manuscript of this letter is held by Columbia University Libraries Special Collections in the Sarah Orne Jewett letters,  Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College, from a Columbia University Libraries microfilm copy of the manuscript.

SOJ to Louisa Dresel

     [Manchester, Mass.]
     Tuesday morning
     [Autumn 1886]*

     My dear Loulie:

     I was so sorry to miss you and your brother1 and so was Mrs. Fields. We had gone for a long ramble along shore2 and did not get in until dark, but how glad we should have been to see you if we had only known. Thank you for liking the "Heron"3 so much. I begin to wish to read it over myself. I felt very discontented with it when it was first written, and it is most reassuring to have you feel such a satisfaction even though you heard long ago what it was meant to be!

     We spent one day this week at Ipswich Neck4 and I want you so much to see it and try some sketches. There is nothing more beautiful in any country than I could show you there on the right sort of a day -- just such a day as we are having now. If I were to be here long enough I should ask you to come down by train and drive over with me, but we must do it late next year perhaps, if Mrs. Fields and I come down. We mean to see you again if possible, but Thursday is the day set for going away and we may have to wait until we are all in town. You don't know how much I like my little sketch of the treetops and how I keep it here on my desk, perched in front of a pigeonhole though sometimes it slips inside. It might be more polite perhaps to call it your sketch! but I like to own it!

     With dear love to Mrs. Dresel and a little kiss for Loulie.

     Yours sincerely,


Notes by Cary

     1Ellis Loring Dresel (1871-1925), a graduate of Harvard College and Law School, became a career diplomat. As a plenipotentiary at the Paris Peace Conference following World War I, he was one of the signers of the peace treaty. He served at various times in the United States embassies at Berlin, Vienna, and Berne.

     2Fields's summer home, Gambrel Cottage, was situated on Thunderbolt Hill in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, a popular resort for Bostonians between Beverly and Gloucester on the North Shore.

     3Jewett's short story, "A White Heron," appeared in A White Heron and Other Stories (Boston 1886).

     4A northwestern point of Cape Ann extending into Ipswich Bay, a short ride from Manchester.

Editor's Notes

1886:  This date is inferred from the fact that Dresel seems just to have read "A White Heron,."  The most recent story collected in the volume where this story first appeared was "The Two Browns," which appeared in Atlantic for August 1886.

  The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Am 1743 (50).  This transcription, with notes by Richard Cary, appeared originally in "Jewett to Dresel: 33 Letters," Colby Library Quarterly 7:1 (March 1975), 13-49, which gave permission to reprint it here.  Notes are by Cary, with additions by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.*

South Berwick Maine
31 October 1886
My dear Doctor Holmes

    I think of you as my fairy-godfather because Mrs. Fields* says that you have given her a ticket for her to go to the great Harvard Day on the 8th.*  I have seldom wished for anything so much as to be there but I kept reminding myself that there were at least some thousands of people who had a better

[ Page 2 ]

right.  Though I am child of Bowdoin I am none the less grandchild of Harvard* and you will see me 'rah with the very loudest especially when the poet of the day comes to the front.

    Please give my kindest regards to Mrs Holmes and take my most grateful thanks for your kindness to [me blotted]{.}

Yours sincerely
Sarah O. Jewett


In the top left corner, written diagonally in another hand: S. O. Jewett.

Mrs. Fields:  Annie Adams Fields.  See Correspondents.

great Harvard Day on the 8th:  On November 5-8, 1886, Harvard University celebrated the 250th anniversary of its founding.  The festivities included an oration by the poet James Russell Lowell and an original poem read by Oliver Wendell Holmes.  They appeared together in the the Sanders Theatre on the morning of Alumni Day, Monday 8 November.  Holmes presented an occasional poem specifically for the celebration, concluding his first stanza with this question:
That joyous gathering who can e'er forget,
When Harvard's nurslings, scattered far and wide,
Through mart and village, lake's and ocean's side,
Came, with one impulse, one fraternal throng,
And crowned the hours with banquet, speech, and song?
child of Bowdoin ... grandchild of Harvard:  Jewett's father, Dr. Theodore Herman Jewett graduated from Bowdoin College.  Her maternal grandfather, Dr. William Perry, earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Library of Congress in the Oliver Wendel Holmes Papers, on Microfilm 15,211-3N; Microfilm 15,671-3P, Box 2, Reel 2.  Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.


SOJ to John Geenleaf Whittier

South Berwick

Sunday morning

November 14, [1886]


My dear Friend:

     I was so sorry when I found that by some mischance the photograph of your sister1 had been left behind and I thank you very much for sending it to me. I have it here on the old study table now. You do not know how much I enjoyed my little visit to you though when I think how many things we talked about and remember so much that you said to me it seems as if I had stayed at least a week. I went to Portland the next morning and spent a very pleasant day and night. My sister Mary was already there with our dear aunt Mrs. Gilman2 whom I wish you might know sometime when you are staying with your niece.3 I never knew a better woman, or a more charming one in many ways. She is already one of your most grateful friends. I saw Mrs. Pierce, Longfellow's sister,4 and also Lizzie Jones (or Mme. Cavazza!)5 and had a good long talk with her which I like very much to remember. She is a singular product of our Maine soil -- but always a very interesting one to me. I remember when we were children that she already knew a good deal of Italian when all I knew of Italy was that organ grinders came from there. What a proof it is that our lives are planned and not accidental --  if one needed another proof.

     I have been very busy since I came home Friday afternoon for the work on the Norman book is very pressing just now and this coming week must be divided between indexing and dressmaking. If the weath­er is fair again I shall take to my heels and seek refuge in windy pastures. The snowstorm was a great blow to me yesterday for that is the only weather of which I am really afraid and almost spoils my out of door world. I send you the verses you were kind enough to wish to see.6  Please remember me very kindly to Judge and Mrs. Cate,7 and do not forget how affectionately I am yours ever,

 Sarah O. Jewett

 Will you please let me have the verses again some day? I have no perfect copy.


1. Whittier had two sisters: Mary (1806­1860) who married Jacob Caldwell, and Elizabeth Hussey (1815-1864). Miss Jewett is probably referring to the latter, "Lizzie," who never married, remaining until her death his closest companion and head of his household.

2. Helen Augusta Williams Gilman (1817-1904), daughter of Reuel Williams the noted lawyer, legislator, and U. S. Senator, married John Taylor Gilman, one of Maine's most prominent physicians. She was founder or officer in several philanthropies, private and public.

3. Elizabeth Hussey (1843-1909) was the daughter of Whittier's brother Matthew and namesake of his sister. She assumed the other "Lizzie's" place in Whittier's household from 1864 to 1876, the year she married Samuel T. Pickard, editor of the Portland Transcript and, later, biographer of Whittier.

4. Anne Longfellow (1810-1901) mar­ried George W. Pierce, described by the poet as "brother-in-law and dearest friend."

5. Elisabeth Jones Cavazza Pullen (?­1926), a native of Portland, Maine, was early educated in music and Italian language and literature. In 1885 she married Signor Nino Cavazza, and in 1894 Stanley J. Pullen, an editor of the Portland Daily Press. She wrote music and literary criticism for that newspaper and for the Literary World, as well as two obscure volumes of fiction.

6. Probably "A Caged Bird," Atlantic Monthly, LIX (June 1887), 816-817, the last known poem she published until 1895.

7. George Washington Cate (1834­1911 ) came to Amesbury as a lawyer in 1866, was appointed judge ten years later. He served in the Massachusetts Senate and locally as trustee of several civic organizations. He married Caroline C. Batchelder of Amesbury in 1873. After Whittier went to live at Oak Knoll, the Cates occupied the Amesbury residence and kept it open for him and his friends until the end of his life.

This letter was transcribed and annotated by Richard Cary, and first published in  "'Yours Always Lovingly': Sarah Orne Jewett to John Greenleaf Whittier,"  Essex Institute Historical Collections 107 (1971): 412-50. This article was reprinted at the Sarah Orne Jewett Text Project by permission of the library of the American Antiquarian Society and the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

SOJ to Eliza Pratt

South Berwick
22 November
[ 1886 ]*

Dear Mrs. Pratt

    May I trouble you to have copies of the June Wide Awake* sent to the following addresses?  I hope I am not doing wrong in coming to you [ deleted word ] ^for^ the favour but it is a matter of a day or two to get them here and start them off again.

Yours sincerely

S. O. Jewett

[ Page 2 ]

Miss Lucia Fairchild*
Care of Mr. Charles Fairchild
    Baring Bros. Bankers
    Bishopsgate St. [ within ? ]

Mrs. James T Fields*
    148 Charles St.

Mrs John H. Rice*
    34 Union Park.

John G. Whittier*
    A  Danvers


1886:  Assuming Jewett wanted to give friends copies of an issue of Wide Awake magazine containing one of her own pieces, she appeared three times in June issues: "Cake Crumbs" in 1880, "Katy's Birthday" in 1883, and "York Garrison, 1640" in 1886.  1880 seems unlikely as she was not yet well-acquainted with Annie Fields at that time.  Both 1883 and 1886 remain possible.  I have chosen 1886 as a guess.  Lucia Fairchild would have been approaching her 14th birthday (6 December), a good age to be interested in Jewett's historical narrative poem.

Miss Lucia Fairchild: The American painter,  Lucia Fairchild Fuller (1872-1924), was the younger sister of Sally Fairchild.  See Correspondents.

Mrs. James T Fields:  Annie Adams Fields. See Correspondents.

Mrs John H. Rice: Cora Clark Rice. See Correspondents.

John G. Whittier: John Greenleaf Whittier. See Correspondents.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Small Library, University of Virginia, Special Collections MSS 6218, Sarah Orne Jewett Papers.  Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

 SOJ to Annie Adams Fields

     South Berwick, Wednesday Afternoon [November-December 1886]*

     [After a visit to Mr. Whittier's house at Amesbury.]

     I longed to send you a note this morning, but unluckily I didn't have any paper upstairs, and had to leave soon after breakfast, or before half-past eight, so I didn't like to ask for writing materials! I was so glad that I went. "Thy dear friend" was so glad to see me, and we sat right down and went at it, and with pauses at tea-time, the conversation was kept up until after ten. He was even more affectionate and dear than usual, and seemed uncommonly well, though he had had neuralgia all day and made out to be a little drooping with the assistance of the weather and coming company. But oh, how rich we are with "thy friend" for a friend! He looked really stout for him, and his face was so full of youth and pleasure and eagerness of interest, as we talked, that it was good only to see him. The LL. D. had evidently given pleasure, though he was quite shy about it. He was full of politics, but we also touched upon Wallace and my old grand-uncle, whom he used to know in Bradford, grand-father's brother; and we talked about Burns and "thy friend's" "Aunt Jones," who believed in witches, and he told a string of his delicious old country stories, and we went over Julian Hawthorne and Lowell, and the President and Mrs. Cleveland, and I told him how Lowell's oration made me feel,* and I don't know what, or who else, except you and your dearest one, for he talked about you both in a heavenly way of your friendship and how much he owed to you.


1886:  Jewett mentions Whittier's honorary degree as a recent event. He received an LL.D. from Harvard University during the celebration of Harvard's 250th Anniversary on 8 November 1886.
James Russell Lowell (February 22, 1819 - August 12, 1891) presented an oration as part of the celebration.  President and Mrs. Grover Cleveland also attended.

Wallace ... Burns ... Julian Hawthorne ... Lowell, and the President and Mrs. Cleveland, and ... Lowell's oration:
    Wallace:  Which Wallace Jewett refers to is unknown.  Assistance is welcome.
    my old grand-uncle, whom he used to know in Bradford:  Information about which of Jewett's grand-uncles Whittier knew at Bradford (Massachusetts?) is welcome.
"Aunt Jones," who believed in witches:  Aunt Jones probably is Mary Chilton Whittier (1816-1857), who married a Charles Jones (1809-1854).
    Robert Burns:  Burns (1759-1796) was a Scots poet.
    Julian Hawthorne:  Hawthorne (1846-1934) was the son of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the author of several books.
    Grover Cleveland:  Cleveland (1837-1908) is the only American President to serve nonconsecutive terms (1885-89 and 1893-97).

This letter appears in Annie Fields, Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett (1911),  Transcribed by Annie Adams Fields, with notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Mary Rice Jewett

[ Late November - December 1886 ]*

Dear Mary

-------------- Thank you so much for your letter this morning.  I am delighted about your going to Cousin Mary's.*  I dont doubt it will be a godsend to her.  You can put her in the way of getting hold of things -- and seeing Coolidge & Mrs. Howland* especially.  -- but it will be ever so pleasant for you if only because you have power to make it pleasant and to take the lead of all our minds in that special case.  She might just as well turn to and see what she can do with her life.  Regret isn't a thing to really live upon  -- but nature will assert itself.  She is young and strong & has got her money to use, and she ought to be thinking of what she can do -- and so she will if she is helped by the right ones  --  She seemed to me a good self-forgetful creature but naturally much warped.        

With love to all the aunts


The lines of hyphens presumably indicate omissions from the manuscript.

1886:  This date is highly speculative.  If the Cousin Mary named in the letter is indeed Mary Nealley and if the life-changing event mentioned is the death of her husband, John B. Nealley, then this letter probably was composed not long after his death on 23 November 1886.

Cousin Mary's:  That Jewett knew so many "Marys" complicates identifying this person.  It seems likely that Jewett refers to  Mary Elizabeth Jewett Nealley (1817-1890), daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Lord Jewett, and the wife of the Hon. John B. Nealley (1810-1886), whom Richard Cary identifies as "a lawyer in South Berwick and a member of the Maine State Senate. They lived adjacent to the Cushing house on Main and Academy streets, a few hundred feet from the Jewett home."  

Coolidge & Mrs. Howland:  When Jewett refers to "Coolidge" she usually means Susan Coolidge, pen name of Sarah Chauncey Woolsey (1835-1905), author of the What Katy Did stories and many other books.

This text is from transcriptions from mixed repositories in the Maine Women Writer's Collection, University of New England, Letters from Sarah Orne Jewett, 1875-1890, Undated Letters, Folder 75, 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 Mary Rice Jewett


Saturday morning
[ 1886 ]

Dear Mary

            I must go out early so that you wont get much of a letter -- but I send old Mrs. Cunningham’s (the lace woman)* which will please you and this nice long letter from Dorothy Ward.*  She cant be twenty two yet at least I think not: -- but dear me!  I have only to remember how old and busy I felt by that time and had been writing for the Atlantic two years or toward three -- and for other things since I was seventeen or eighteen! and when you think what “opportunities” Dorothy has had she doesn’t seem so young after all. ---------------------------------




1886:  This date is based only upon Jewett's guess that Dorothy Ward is not yet 22 years old. 
    The hyphens at the end indicate this is an incomplete transcription.

Mrs. Cunningham’s (the lace woman): This person has not been identified.  Assistance is welcome.

Dorothy Ward: See in Correspondents, Mrs. Humphry Ward, for her daughter Dorothy Ward (1874-1964).

This text is from transcriptions from mixed repositories in the Maine Women Writer's Collection, University of New England, Letters from Sarah Orne Jewett, 1875-1890, Folder 74, Burton Trafton Jewett Research Collection. For more information about the individual transcription, contact the Maine Women Writers Collection.  Preparation by Linda Heller.  Notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Louisa Dresel

     Christmas night

     My dear Loulie:

     What a dear girl and what a dear picture! and now I ought to say what dear girls and the splendidest calendar that ever crossed the sea! Do thank Miss Brockhaus1 for thinking of the new friend whom she has not seen, and doing this charming thing for a faraway Christmas. Indeed I care very much for the picture. I like it with a growing liking and Mrs. Fields, who knows, says it is the very best yet, and that Loulie is -- well, that must wait to be told and not written.

     I sent you the little Wordsworth,2 because this summer I have waked up to such a wonderful new glimpse and wide understanding of some poems that I did not know before, and I am in such a corresponding hurry that everybody else should look through the same window!

     Forgive this hurried note because with all its blots and blunders it is very full of true gratitude for your dear kindness and I am

     Your sincere and affectionate friend,

     Sarah O. Jewett


     1Marianne Brockhaus, a young German girl Dresel met on one of her frequent trips abroad, who remained a devoted friend and correspondent for many years. When Jewett died, Miss Brockhaus wrote from Dresden to Fields, in part: "I shall always count the hours spent with you both among my most precious recollections & shall never forget the atmosphere of perfect sympathy & understanding in your sweet companionship. The literary world of America lost much but only those who knew her can feel with you, nearer and dearer to this rare woman than anyone else. I am proud to have known her and feel grateful to her for great kindness as well as for opening my eyes to various things in American character that a foreigner never would have appreciated but for her books."

     2Selections from Wordsworth. With a brief sketch of his life. (R. Clarke & Co.: Cincinnati, 1886), 40 pp.

  The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Am 1743 (50).  This transcription by Richard Cary appeared originally in "Jewett to Dresel: 33 Letters," Colby Library Quarterly 7:1 (March 1975), 13-49, which gave permission to reprint it here.  Notes are by Cary, with additions by Terry Heller, Coe College.   Notes are by Cary, with additions by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Louisa Loring Dresel

[1886. probably in another hand, upper left corner of page 1]

148 Charles St.
Sunday December 26th [1886]

Dear Loulie

    You are no less than my fairy god child!  Thank you for the dear watercolour which I love very much and keep like a bit of summer country in this wintry town and thank you too for the charming book-clasps which [will written over letters] always be a treasure

[ Page 2 ]

too --  I shall ask you all about the quaint silver-smithery, where you found it and how you could bear to give it away when I see you.  That must be very soon but in the mean time I send you my best wishes for the last of the old year and the whole of the new to you and Mrs. Dresel.

[ Page 3 ]

I hope you had a happy Christmas.  I am sure you did, for the first one in the new house,

Yours lovingly
Sarah O. Jewett


In another hand in the upper left corner of page one appears the date: 1886. 

The manuscript of this letter is held by Columbia University Libraries Special Collections in the Sarah Orne Jewett letters,  Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College, from a Columbia University Libraries microfilm copy of the manuscript.

SOJ to Emma Lewis Coleman

28th December 1886

[ Begin letterhead ]

148. Charles Street.

[ End letterhead ]

My dear Miss Coleman*

    I hardly know how to thank you for the pleasure these photographs give me.  I look and look again at the harbour-road with the Harmon Elms,* and

[ Page 2 ]

feel as if I were taken back to the York of many summers ago.  Even before I knew Mifs Lane and Mifs Baker,* long years ago when there was nothing in the world to do but drive about with my father I remember going to the Donnell house* and seeing the master and mistress

[ Page 3 ]

of it and being regaled with a sight of their big gay glass mugs and chinaware by way [of ? ] treat -- It was even longer ago than the kittenhood of their far-famed big cat!

    The other pictures are truly a bit of York summer here in this wintry town.  I think you were most kind to give them to me.  Sometime I wish very

[ Page 4 ]

much to see the rest of your photographs -- and next summer we will try to make sure of getting the [South written over a word ?] Berwick part taken.

Believe me yours
gratefully and sincerely

Sarah O. Jewett


Coleman:  Jewett spells "Miss" as "Mifs."  She continues with this spelling through the letter.

Harmon Elms: This reference remains obscure. A York Harbor hotel of the 19th century was named Harmon Hall.  Jewett may refer to elms associated with this hotel.

Donnell house:  The Donnell House was an early resort hotel at Long Sands beach, York Beach, ME. In the 1890s, the manager was B. G. Donnell.  Information about the proprietors and their cat in the period Jewett refers to (about 1855-1865) has not yet been located.

Mifs Lane and Mifs Baker:  Jewett refers to the American landscape and genre painter, Susan Minot Lane (1832-1893) and American historian, Charlotte Alice Baker (1833-1909).  In Sarah Orne Jewett (2002) Paula Blanchard describes the association of Jewett, Baker and photographer Emma Lewis Coleman: "the three summered at York [ME] together.  In 1883-86 Jewett and the others collaborated in staging a series of photographs in the [François] Millet style: local models, or sometimes Miss Baker, would dress up in period costume and Coleman would photograph them at everyday rural tasks.  Reconstructing historic conditions as accurately as possible, the group also followed Millet in creating images intended to express the beauty and dignity of rural life.  The results were obviously staged and entirely lacked the heroic aura of Millet's peasants, but Jewett was pleased with them." (225-6).

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Small Library, University of Virginia, Special Collections MSS 6218, Sarah Orne Jewett Papers.  The envelope associated with this letter is addressed to 704 Tremont St., Boston.  Transcription and notes by Terry Heller, Coe College.

SOJ to Louisa Loring Dresel

[ 1886 ]*

Dear Loulie

    I am sorry to hear that you are not feeling well today and I send you my politest wishes for a quick recovery.  I have been quite weakly myself for some days but this afternoon in spite of everything being against it I have discovered myself quite limber and frisky.  I am beginning to do a little writing now at half past four, and tomorrow

[ Page 2 ]

I shall expect to be very well indeed.  I send you a perfectly beautiful story book which I should like to have again within thirty six hours at the utmost for I cannot possibly wait longer than that before I read it straight through again -- A great emergency is not to be read first: you must turn to Madam

[ Page 3 ]

Liberality in the last of the booky and weep a little, and remember that it is partly an autobiography of Mrs. Ewing* herself.  It is so touching and wise and sweet and some of it reminds me of my own plays and sore throats.

    Then you must read the first story and see what watercolor pictures there are all along -- and take particular note of the

[ Page 4 ]

[ deleted letters ] boy's coming out of the dockyard gate and meeting the sailor going in "with a ship's name on his hat" -----

    = I am going out to dinner tonight and if you hear voices of sailors under your windows, lowering the bower anchor,* you will know it is I, coming home by sea.

Yours affectionately

S. O. J.   


1886:  This date has been added in another hand and different ink to the top left corner of page 1.  I have chosen to accept it, though the rationale is not known.

Mrs. Ewing:  Juliana Horatia Gatty Ewing (1841-1885) was an English author of children's stories, including A Great Emergency and Other Tales (1877).  "Madam Liberality" is the final story of this volume.  The account of meeting the sailor at the dock yard gate appears on p. 53, but -- while this edition is illustrated -- there does not appear to be an illustration of this event. Presumably, Jewett is looking at a more fully illustrated edition.

bower anchor:  Usually a pair of anchors permanently attached to the bow of a ship, ready to drop quickly in the case of an emergency.

The manuscript of this letter is held by the Columbia University (New York) Library in Special Collections, Jewett.  Transcription from a microfilm copy and annotation by Terry Heller, Coe College.

Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College.

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