14 October 2011

Harriet Prescott Spofford in Newburyport, Massachusetts: Literary New England #4

 Harriet Prescott Spofford (1835-1921)
Spofford's grave in Oak Hill Cemetery gives her name as Harriet Elizabeth Prescott. She was born in Calais, Maine, and her family moved to Newburyport, and she became known as a short story writer, impressing such major authors as Emily Dickinson and James Russell Lowell.

Her gravestone is difficult to read, but contains lines from Dryden's ode 'To the Pious Memory of the accomplished young lady, Mrs. Anne Killigrew, excellent in the two sister arts of Poesy and Painting:

'Thy brother-angels at thy birth
Strung each his lyre, and tuned it high,
That all the people of the sky
Might know a poetess was born on Earth.'

Next to her grave is that of her husband Richard: she married him when she was aged thirty and they went to live on Deer Island on the Merrimack River between Amesbury and Newburyport. Their former residence is now the only structure on the island.

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