15 December 2011

Sarah Orne Jewett in South Berwick, Maine: Literary New England #20

Tilly Haggens emigrated to the USA from Ireland about 1740 and bought an area of land in South Berwick, Maine. This house, which is at the junction of the present Main Street and Portland Street, was built on the land by Tilly's son John, who lived here with his family until about 1819.
Captain Theodore F. Jewett was a merchant and a ship owner who probably originally rented the house here when he moved his family from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and didn't buy it until 1839. The captain's son, Dr Theodore Herman Jewett, moved here in 1848 with his wife Caroline and their baby daughter Mary. The following year, Theodora Sarah Orne Jewett was born. Many years later, after Sarah had moved back into the house, she used to write in front of the window above the door, where she could see the events in the center of the town. Umm.

The present entrance to the house museum, which is owned by Historic New England, which unfortunately doesn't allow photography inside.

In 1854 a house was built next door to Sarah Orne's birthplace and the doctor — who was practising in and around the town — moved his family here, and a short time later a third daughter, Caroline Augusta, was born. Her father used to take Sarah on his rounds, which is how she learned a great deal about the local color which fed her short stories and novels; for instance, in 1884 she wrote A Country Doctor.

Sarah's uncle William died in 1887 and Sarah and Mary inherited the house, which they moved back into with their mother, according to Historic New England. So where does Annie Fields fit into the picture? Annie's husband James T. Fields died in 1881, after which Sarah Orne Jewett is said by reliable sources to have been in a long 'Boston marriage' with her.

Caroline Augusta had married Edwin Eastman, and they moved into the house next door, now known as the Jewett-Eastman House, which has been the town library since 1970.
Jewett's tomb in South Berwick cemetery:

'To the dear memory
Daughter of Doctor Theodore H.
and Caroline F. Jewett
Born the third of September
Died the twenty fourth of June
Until the day break
and the shadows flee away'

No comments: