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The Story of the Normans

Jewett's Comments

Following is a collection of comments Jewett made in her letters related this title. Unless otherwise noted, all of the following letters were written to Annie Fields.

    Items from Annie Fields, Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett (Boston: Houghton, 1911) are marked as Fields, followed by the letter number.
    Item from "Richard Cary, Jewett to Dresel: 33 Letters," Colby Library Quarterly 7:1 (March 1975), 13-49, is marked by Dresel, followed by the letter number.
    Items from "Richard Cary, "Yours Always Lovingly": Sarah Orne Jewett to John Greenleaf Whittier" Colby Library Quarterly 7:1 (March 1975), 13-49, are marked by Whittier, followed by the letter number.
    Items marked HL are from manuscripts.  Unless otherwise noted, all are from: Jewett, Sarah Orne, 1849-1909. Annie Fields (Adams) 1834-1915, recipient. 194 letters; 1877-1909 & [n.d.] Sarah Orne Jewett correspondence, 1861-1930. MS Am 1743 (255). Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

fragment [1884?]

    (HL from p. 1)

And now Mr. & Mrs. Furber are coming ^[deleted word] tomorrow^ to finish their visit.  I shall get more out of him about my Normans.

Jewett was a close friend of Elvira Irwin Furber, wife of her distant relation, Henry Furber, Sr.  Link to Furber family information.

Monday evening [1884?]
    (HL from pp. 3-4)

    Did I tell you that I am reading Bulwer's Harold – the Last of the Saxon Kings, with great delight?  It is such a high colored, vivid picture of life in those days that nothing has made me place my chief figures so easily --  [parenthesis inserted in green pencil]    Mr. Furber told me to read it – and you said something about one of Kingsley's didn't you? which I must surely get. 

Fields has penciled in either 1884 or 1889; it is not clear which.  Jewett reports reading Bulwer-Lytton's Harold, which is likely preparation for her work on The Story of the Normans.  That she is considering placing her chief figures and that people have been recommending to her novels about the Norman conquest period indicates that she is likely working on the book, but this must be somewhat early in her process.  1884 is a likely date, while 1889 is not.

For further information on Lytton and Kingsley as sources, see Jewett's Sources.

From Fields, dated Monday evening, [1885]
    (Fields 7)

     Today I have been reading hard, in Thierry chiefly, with some other big books alongside, and I feel as if I had been over-eating with my head!!! I try to think how fortunate it is that I should be well paid for learning a thing that I ought to know at any rate, but all that period is very difficult for any one to straighten out who has not been a student of history. It is so important and such a key-note to later English history, that I think of the early Britons all sound asleep under the green grass of Salisbury Plain, and feel as if they would have been quite within my grasp! When I read the "Saturday Review" and "Spectator" I find myself calling one politician a Saxon and the next a Norman! Indeed I can pick them out here in Berwick!

Fields dates this letter from 1883, but it seems clear that Jewett is well into her work on The Story of the Normans.  The earliest date for this is likely to be in sometime in 1885.

Sunday Afternoon  [Fields has penciled in 1885? November]

    (HL from p. 2)

Yesterday I was reading hard all day as I mean to be for a good many days to come.  I remind myself constantly how good all this work is in every way – and how thankful I shall be to have done it when I go to England again.  I shall be able to improve an ignorant  mouse's ["Mouse's" appears in tiny script.] mind and to speak with confidence of battlefields and warriors and be a very profitable companion in short!

"Mouse" is an endearment Jewett used to refer to Annie Fields.

Evidence in the rest of the letter indicates that it was written in the autumn, before Thanksgiving.  Jewett has been reading Susan Coolidge's A Little Country Girl (1885). Coolidge is a pen name used by Sarah Chauncey Woolsey (1835 - 1905).

Monday evening [Autumn 1885]
    [HL, from p. 1]

    This has been a hardworking Pinny, but a getting-along-one!  I wish I could be sent to school over again, for I never was more conscious that I don't know how to study.  Of course, a certain amount of this reading must be committed to memory, else I have to go back again and again to get things straight ----

Though Jewett does not mention that she is studying the Normans, this is most likely the task she would refer to in October or November of 1885.

"Pinny" is an endearment used by Fields and Jewett to refer to Jewett.

Later in the letter, Jewett recommends to Fields, Edith M. Thomas's sonnet, "Migration," in the new November issue of Century. The poem appeared in The Century 31: 1 (Nov 1885): 115.

Monday afternoon [1885 or 1886]

    (HL from pages 1-2, 4)

    [Letter begins in bright green ink.] A Pinny playing with ink is a splendid sight but I got a pretty collection for making  different [previous three words appear to be in gray ink] notes and references in the history that I could see at a glance whence this lively green!  I dont know it should dazzle ones eyes so, when green is always suffered to be so good for the eyes [change to darker ink] I am beginning my letter before I do my work for I mean to go [begin very black ink] drive tonight after the sun gets very low….

I read Burnaby's Ride to Khiva Saturday night with great pleasure and a new persuasion of the barbarism of Russia.  Last week one day I indulged in a short peroration on the true causes ^and benefits^ of war to begin a Normans chapter, and this story of travel made me [feel?] more eager about my opinions.  I hope to read it to you someday and have you say you agree.

"Date of Normans" is penciled near the top of page 1.

Jewett's peroration opens Chapter 13 of The Story of the Normans.

Colonel Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (1842 - 1885)  published A Ride to Khiva in 1881.

Friday Morning [1886]

    (HL from p. 1)

    Such a day's work yesterday.  Straight through the battle of Hastings so that I am ready to say Hooray and think that I have broken the back of my piece of work.  If I could go straight on now I should soon finish the first writing, but next week I shall have to be going to and fro crab fashion.

July 28, 1886
    (HL from p. 3)

I feel more like reading story books than anything else.  And a great sense of the history weighs on my mind -- not the details any longer, but the whole enterprise, but I hope to forget it after a while.

Thursday morning [Summer 1886]

    (To Whittier 23)

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 history (very badly!) and now my sister is going away.

Sunday Morning November 14, [1886]

(To Whittier 24)

 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 weath¬er is fair again I shall take to my heels and seek refuge in windy pastures.

Friday -- after supper [December 1886]
    (HL from pages 1-4)

I have had a very worrisome day.  I made up my mind to get the index done and started early in the day, where I got news that Georgia Halliburton was at Mrs. Doe's, so presently Mary and I took ship for there and spent that last hour of the morning with her most pleasantly. She feels as solemn as I did, but expects great pleasures….  Then I had my dinner and a piece of the index for dessert and then I had to go to a funeral down the street!  Then I came home for a little while and then went to the station to have a last little word and good bye with Georgia.  Then I pulled at the index and finished it!! in time for the last mail.  I suggested to Mr. Putnam that he should have the proof read in the office as I had written it all very plain.  Now I feel as if I had life all before me again.  It is a solemn thing to get such a long hard piece of work done, but I must get my breath and go for the herb-woman "Sister Wisby."

This passage has been revised in pencil, mainly with deletions, presumably by Fields.  I have presented the unrevised text.

"The Courting of Sister Wisby" appeared in Atlantic Monthly in May 1887.   Mrs. Goodsoe, not Sister Wisby, is the herb woman of the story.

Friday evening [1886]
    (HL, written up the left margin of first page)

One of the Putnam's clerks to acknowledge the manuscript so that is all right so far[.]  I keep remembering notes that I made last fall and never put in!

Fields dates the letter as 1885.  However, Jewett reports reading Edwin Arnold (1832-1904) India Revisited (1886).  This supports the high probability that Jewett speaks of her first completing the book in December of 1886.  This letter could suggest that Jewett was working on the manuscript in the autumn of 1885.

Wednesday evening (with a great rain on the roof of the study) [December 1886 or early January 1887]
    (HL from pages 4-5)

Mr. Putnam writes today that Mr. Freeman has sent for proofs of my history because he's going to do the Sicily.  I am horribly afraid of Mr. Freeman --  It is like having Sir Walter come with his dogs after one of my story-books.-- or much much worse!

Fields dates this letter in 1890, but that almost certainly is incorrect, as revealed by a good deal of internal and external evidence.  In Reception,  an 8 January 1887 notice appears that Edward A. Freeman will be writing the Story of the Nations volume on Sicily 1892.  The first review of The Story of the Normans is published on February 13.  Freeman would request the proofs only if the book is "in proof," but not yet published, though perhaps proofs could have been supplied before Jewett completed the index in December.  In the rest of the letter, Jewett speaks of her Grandfather Perry being ill.  He died on January 11, 1887.

November 20th, 1887, Edward A. Freeman to Jewett

[Printed letterhead]
16. St. Giles.
Oxford [to the right of the letterhead]

Dear Madam,

 I forget what I could have said to make you say that you have found Eremburga. There can be no doubt about her as Count Rogers second  wife, quite distinct from Judith his first, though Geoffrey Malaterra makes it a little confusing by leaving out Judiths death and Eremburgas marriage. But there is no doubt about it. I have given a long note to it. But what can be the use of of [repeated] Hares Cities of Southern Italy and Sicily.  I tried it but hes worthless [there?] on the spot. I don't believe He has ever [been?] at Spoleto. Murrays volume (by George Dennis) is far better and [Grell-fels?] better again. 

Maurice must be some odd confides confusion with [unknown word] or [McGrice?], or both. It never does to trust second-hand writers. I don't want anybody to trust me. Even in this little Sicily, where I shall not be able to give definite references, I shall give [Written sideways on the other side of the folded sheet.] a heading of authorities to each chapter.

             Edward A Freeman [The three parts of his name are connected into one word.]

This transcription of MS Am 1743 (68) Freeman, Edward Augustus, 1823-1892, 1 letter; 1887, is available courtesy of the Houghton Library, Harvard University.

 Malaterra:  According to Wikipedia, Geoffrey Malaterra "was an eleventh-century Benedictine monk and historian, possibly of Norman origin."

Dennis:  According to Wikipedia, "George Dennis (21 July 1814 in Ash Grove, Hackney, Middlesex – 15 November 1898 in South Kensington, London) was a British explorer of Etruria; his written account and drawings of the ancient places and monuments of the Etruscan civilization combined with his summary of the ancient sources is among the first of the modern era and remains an indispensable reference in Etruscan studies."
    Probably, Freeman refers to  A handbook for Travellers in Southern Italy and Sicily: comprising the description of Naples and its environs, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Vesuvius, Sorrento; the islands of Capri and Ischia; Amalfi, Pæstum, and Capua, the Abruzzi and Calabria; Palermo, Girgenti, the Greek temples, and Messina.  Originally published in 1853 by Octavian Blewitt; the seventh edition of 1874 listed George T. Dennis as co-author.

Sunday afternoon, December, 1888.
    (Fields 20)

     Another postcard from Mr. [Edward A.] Freeman. He has found about Maurice!! and is more friendly than ever. How can I live up to this correspondence? I am going to head him off and keep him quiet for a while by telling him that I have only a few of my books at hand.

December 17, 1890 from G. H. Putnam to Sarah Orne Jewett
    (HL MS Am 1743 (185) Putnam, George Haven, 1 letter; 1890)

[Printed letterhead, centered on left margin.]
G. P. Putnam's Sons
27 & 29 WEST 23rd STREET
                COVENT GARDEN
Dear Miss Jewett,
            Mr. Unwin, the London publisher of the "Story of the Nations" series, has finally offered to take a set of the plates of the "Story of the Normans" at a small advance on the cost of reproducing these. --
            We are desirous, for more reasons than one, that this volume should not continue to be omitted from the London list of the series, and we have therefore accepted Mr. Unwin's offer and shall plan to ship his set of the plates early in the New Year.
            The margin of profit on this shipment, amounting to £35.0.0. , we shall divide with the author, passing to her credit £17.10.0.
            Kindly send us, as early as convenient, a list of such corrections as seem to you important, and we will have made (at our own cost) all that may not entail any exceptional outlay.
            We can secure no allowance from Mr. Unwin for the cost of correcting the plates for his English edition, and we shall wish, therefore, to keep the expense of these corrections as moderate as possible.
            We shall send you in January February, statement showing sales to date of the book.

                                                                                                Yours very truly
                                                                                                G. H. Putnam
Miss S.O. Jewett,
               Charles st. Boston.

Sunday evening, Autumn.
    (Fields 30)

     Mr. Putnam has just got back from London, and I find that I shall probably begin my proofs within a fortnight. I am forgetting the worrisome detail a little now, and dread taking it up again, but perhaps they will hurry through and shorten my miseries. "Vanity Fair" is read through, a very great book, and for its time Tolstoi and Zola and Daudet and Howells and Mark Twain and Turgenieff and Miss Thackeray of this day all rolled into one, so wise and great it is and reproachful and realistic and full of splendid scorn for meanness and wickedness, which scorn the Zola school seems to lack. And the tenderness and sweetness of the book is heavenly, that is all I can say about it. I am brimful of things to say.

Jewett completed the T. Fisher Unwin revision late in 1890

 Saturday afternoon  [December 27, 1890]
    (To Dresel 13)
     I have just finished some teasing work, the anxious revision of the Normans I have felt hurried with it and of course there could hardly be a more distracting week of the year to undertake it in! But I am sending off the papers today, and feel much relieved in mind.

January 2015
Terry Heller, Coe College

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