Louisa May Alcott and Jane Goodwin Austin

Louisa May Alcott and Jane Goodwin Austin

Louisa May Alcott and Jane Goodwin Austin

Two things hooked me on Jane Goodwin Austin. First, she created the story of the first Thanksgiving. Second, she was friends with Louisa May Alcott. As a little girl, I loved to read old books. I had all the early Nancy Drews, Bobbsey Twins, and the Little House series, as well as anything I could acquire by LM Montgomery. And of course, I read a lot of Alcott’s novels. In fact, I read Little Women every winter as a sort of ritual. My trip to Concord in the mid-1980s solidified my passion. Once I actually saw New England and visited

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Austin versus Austen

Austin versus Austen

Today is the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, so it seems like a good time for a post distinguishing the English Jane Austen with the American Jane Goodwin Austin. “It is a truth universally acknowledged” that every article about Jane Austen has to include that phrase somewhere (Sorry, I just couldn’t resist. I was trying to come up with Austin Power jokes, though, so it could have been worse). The English Jane Austen was born in 1775 and published some of the best-known and most critically acclaimed novels in all of literature. Pride and Prejudice (1813) is

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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: 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

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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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