Austin’s 1889 novel, Standish of Standish, is definitely her most popular work, but it’s also an incredibly influential novel because of its impact on American culture. It’s not a coincidence that the Pilgrims began to be associated with the “first” Thanksgiving only after her book was published (but more on that in another post). Nor is it a coincidence that stories about America’s past were popular at that time; after all, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886 and the Pledge of Allegiance was written and promoted in 1887. In 1910, more than 30 states had laws requiring Americanization
Quick Facts about Standish of Standish: Date of publication: 1889 Author: Jane Goodwin Austin (NOT the English Jane Austen!) Setting: Plymouth, Massachusetts, in the early years of the settlement Plot Synopsis: Standish of Standish opens with the Mayflower anchored in the harbor and the women demanding to be taken ashore to do their laundry after months onboard. The Pilgrims eventually find and then settle in Plymouth where they deal with the difficulties of the first winter, including numerous deaths. The first summer is more successful, as is the first fall, and Pilgrims invite the Wampanoag to a feast by way of saying thank you. Another year passes as
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.
People often ask me how I came across Jane Goodwin Austin and why a Southern-ish Atlantan reads novels about the Pilgrims and Puritans. This post gives the background on this seven-year process. In the summer of 2010, I was lucky enough to participate in a week-long workshop for college faculty in Plymouth, Massachusetts, sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Community College Humanities Association. We spent a week listening to scholars discuss various topics, such as the relationship between the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims and the intricacies of Calvinist theology, and we toured sites such as