Sarah Orne Jewett Biography

Sarah Orne Jewett

Sarah Orne Jewett, 1894.Sarah Orne Jewett (1840-1909) was an American author born in South Berwick, Maine, on the 3rd of September 1849.

She was a daughter of the physician Theodore H. Jewett (1815-1878), by whom she was greatly influenced, and whom she has drawn in A Country Doctor (1884). As a child, Jewett often accompanied her father on his rounds, becoming deeply familiar with the people and landscape of her native land. She developed rheumatoid arthritis in early childhood, and as part of her treatment was sent on frequent walks which cultivated a love of nature.

Education and early writing

Sarah Orne Jewett studied at Miss Olive Rayne’s school and the Berwick Academy, and began her literary career in 1869. At the age of 19, she contributed her first story to the Atlantic Monthly. She is best remembered for her short stories and local color sketches, such as those in The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896), but she also wrote novels, poems, and a few children’s stories.

Jewett describes the people of Maine with peculiar charm and realism, illuminating their characteristic speech, manners and traditions. Her style sometimes recalls the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Death

Sarah Orne Jewett died at South Berwick, Maine, on the 24th of June 1909. A June 25, 1909 article in the New York Times reports on her last illness and death.


Black and white portrait of American author Sarah Orne Jewett, reading from a book. Image from Literary Pilgrimages in New England to the Homes of Famous Makers of American Literature... by Edwin M. Bacon. New York: Silver, Burdett and Company, 1902: p. 129

You may view a timeline of Sarah Orne Jewett’s life at Coe College.

Publications

Deephaven (1877), a series of sketches

Old Friends and New (1879)

Country By-ways (1881)

A Country Doctor (1884), a novel

A Marsh Island (1885), a novel

A White Heron and other Stories (1886)

The King of Folly Island and other People (1888)

Strangers and Wayfarers (1890)

A Native of Winby and other Tales (1893)

The Queen’s Twin and other Stories (1899)

The Tory Lover (1901), an historical novel

Some of these works may be seen at Coe College’s Sarah Orne Jewett Text Project.

Additional resources from Module 1.1 of Introduction to Literature, English 1.

Audio recording of “A White Heron”

A Country of Pointed Firs is an Honors text for Module 2.6 of Literature and Composition, English 2 of the Excellence in Literature curriculum.

 

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