When I started my research on acclaimed American short story writer Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, in the mid-1970s, I made many research trips to the towns where she lived. Randolph, Massachusetts, where she was born in 1852. Brattleboro, Vermont, where she moved with her family in 1867, where she launched her distinguished literary career, and where she remained until the death of her mother (1880) and her father (1883). A year or so later, she returned to Randolph. Metuchen, New Jersey, where she moved after her marriage to Charles Manning Freeman in 1902 and where she remained until her death in 1930.
Without fail, during those research trips, I would stop people on the street:
“Hi, I’m doing research on Mary E. Wilkins Freeman and …”
Since those early days of my research, several major contributions to Freeman studies have been published, including my The Infant Sphinx: Collected Letters of Mary of Wilkins Freeman (Scarecrow, 1985), praised by The Journal of Modern Literature as “the most complete record to date of Freeman’s life as writer and woman.” More recent is the noteworthy collection of scholarly essays New Perspectives on Mary E. Wilkins Freeman: Reading with and against the Grain. Eds. Stephanie Palmer, Myrto Drizou, and Cécile Roudeau (Edinburgh University Press, 2023).
Since those early days of my research, Freeman has regained her status as a significant nineteenth century writer, especially among lovers of the American short story tradition. More and more people understand why she was the first recipient of the William Dean Howells Gold Medal for Distinguished Work in Fiction:
Also, more and more people understand why the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters dedicated its bronze doors to “The Memory of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman and the Women Writers of America”:
Even so, Freeman is still not the household name that she was at the turn of the 20th century when she and Mark Twain were America’s most beloved writers.
But that’s about to change, especially in Vermont.
On May 23, a book will be released that will anchor her to Vermont, now and forever.
I’m the author, and I’ll be headed to Burlington, Vermont, for the official May 25 book launch, hosted by Onion River Press and Phoenix Books.
The book is a short story collection by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman. It was originally published under the title A Humble Romance and Other Stories (1887). But it was supposed to be published as Green Mountain Stories. Now, 136 years later, the collection is being published under its intended title, Green Mountain Stories, with an extensive critical commentary providing the intriguing backstory. This publication anchors Freeman solidly, unequivocally, and forever to Vermont—The Green Mountain State—where she launched her acclaimed literary career. Vermont can now claim Freeman as its own, just as exclusively as Freeman claimed Vermont as her own, from the start of her career until the end. The publication marks the beginning of Freeman’s long journey back home to Vermont.
I hope that you can join me at the book launch–especially if you are a Vermonter–so that you can hear all about it in person!
You can preorder your copy of the book now, using the link below: