Standish of Standish

Standish of Standish

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: The novel 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 the

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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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A Peep at the Pilgrims, Part Two

Scribner’s American Historical Novels claims that Peep is one of “the best and most detailed of the early nineteenth-century novels of the Puritans [and] probably the best novel of its kind until Standish of Standish.” And while Sedgwick and Child both mention historical figures of Plymouth in their novels, neither writer focused specifically on Plymouth Pilgrims. The fact that Cheney did is interesting because she did it so early on. Cheney’s novel, published in 1924 and the same year as Child’s, pre-dates the publication of Bradford’s journal and the increasing interest in Pilgrims it generated. Indeed, many of the newspaper and

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A Peep at the Pilgrims: Part One

While I’m passionate about recovering the works of forgotten women writers, I also concede that some works have been forgotten for a reason. Harriet Vaughan Foster Cheney’s A Peep at the Pilgrims in 1636: A Tale of Olden Times probably won’t spark much interest among modern readers unless they like the didactic, heavily moralizing style of the earlier nineteenth century. Although the plot centers around the burgeoning (and forbidden!) romance developing between the English Edward Atherton and the Puritan Miriam Grey, there is suspenseful intrigue when Grey is captured by the Pequots, and various characters provide comic relief, the novel

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