A Peep at the Pilgrims in 1636: A Tale of Olden Times

A Peep at the Pilgrims in 1636: A Tale of Olden Times

Quick Facts: Date of Publication: 1824, the same year as Hobomok Author: Harriet Vaughan Foster Cheney Setting: Mostly around Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1636 just before the Pequot War Plot Synopsis: Miriam Grey is a young Puritan woman in Plymouth. Loved by all in the community for her sweetness and beauty, she is a faithful daughter and cheerfully endures the deprivations of pioneer life for the sake of her father, to whom she is very obedient. She falls in love with the English Edward Atherton, who is visiting Miles Standish, his relative. But like Standish, Edward is not Puritan, and Miriam’s

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Hobomok

Quick Facts: Date of publication: 1824, the same year as Harriet Vaughan Cheney’s A Peep at the Pilgrims in 1636: A Tale of Olden Times, and only a year after James McHenry’s The Spectre of the Forest, or Annals of the Housatonic, the earliest Pilgrim/Puritan novel I’ve identified Author: Lydia Maria Child, her first publication Setting: Naumkeak, now present-day Salem Massachusetts, in 1629, just before the arrival of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and later Plymouth, through about 1633 Plot Synopsis: Mary Conant, the daughter of a harsh Puritan, loses her lover, Charles Brown, when he is banished from the colony

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Blurred lines: history versus romance

Why are some sources on the Pilgrims considered reliable or useful, while others are ignored or even ridiculed? There is a fair amount of speculation and imaginative reconstruction in even the driest of histories, and those are the points I find the most fascinating. What truly separates a historical novel from history? Jane G Austin made no secret of the fact that she was writing a “romance” of the Plymouth Colony in Standish of Standish (1889). The preface begins, “The history of the Old Colony includes, among some very stern facts, a deal of sweet and tender romance, hitherto hardly

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Inventing Thanksgiving: Pilgrims, America, and Immigration

Inventing Thanksgiving: Pilgrims, America, and Immigration

This semester has been incredibly busy, so much so that I have not posted here in way too long. But I’m getting ready for this presentation next week, and I love the way that the publicity pictures turned out. The image of Columbia stirring Pilgrim and Thanksgiving iconography in a giant melting pot is perfect for this speech.

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Myles Standish: The Love Triangle

Poor Myles Standish. I suppose every compelling narrative must have some comic relief, and in many stories about the Pilgrims, he often fulfills that role, either by being the hothead who loves a good fight or by being the loser in a love triangle. Even his physical appearance is grounds for humor; he was apparently rather short and had reddish hair. Love Triangle Standish is probably most remembered today for his botched attempts at courting Priscilla Alden. But I’ve got some questions about the origin of that story. In Harriet Vaughn Cheney’s Peep at the Pilgrims, Standish is Edward Atherton’s

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Modern Responses to Austin’s Fiction

Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting with a lovely group of people at the Doraville Public Library’s American Short Stories discussion group. They read Austin’s short story, “William Bradford’s Love Life,” which Austin had first published in 1869, and which I’ve previously written about here. I really wasn’t sure what to expect from our discussion, but I was so excited to hear their responses! Reviews were mixed, and I don’t think anyone really loved the story. Nobody was happy with the female characters. It’s hard to feel sympathy for Dorothy, mooning about and putting up with her husband whispering

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