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Sarah Orne Jewett

From Academic Kids

Sarah Orne Jewett (September 3, 1849June 24, 1909) was an American author whose works were set in her native New England. Her most famous works include the 1896 novella The Country of Pointed Firs, and a short story, The White Heron.

Jewett grew up and lived in South Berwick, Maine. Jewett was schooled at the Berwick Academy. Her first story was Jenny Garrow's Lovers, published in 1868. This was followed by a constant stream of stories through the 1870s First establishing herself as a short story author, Jewett formed a close relationship with Annie Fields and James T. Fields. After Annie Fields' husband died in 1881, the two were together for the rest of Jewett's life (Fields died in 1915). The two were friends with many of the main literary figures of their time, including Willa Cather,Mary Ellen Chase, William Dean Howells, Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Alfred Tennyson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Mark Twain, Sarah Wyman Whitman and John Greenleaf Whittier.

Over the course of her life, Jewett travelled to Europe four times. In 1902, she was injured in a carriage accident (on her birthday), when the horse pulling the carriage slipped and fell. Jewett suffered a concussion and may have cracked vertebrae, which effectively ended her literary career and left her immobile.

There is speculation that, because Jewett never married, she may have been a lesbian. Her relationship with Fields is known as a so-called Boston Marriage, two people of the same gender living together (though not necessarily in a homosexual situation). There is no definitive proof of her sexual orientation, however, but critics argue about whether or not this detracts from the power of her literature.

Jewett's work is recognizable due to its focus on characters above anything else, as well as its broad sense of humor. Some critics suggest that Jewett's literature is not worth studying because it is not plot driven.

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