Jewett, Sarah Orne

Sarah Orne Jewett

Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909), as a child, would take walks with her father, a physician, around the Maine countryside, as he went to see his patients. This led to her love of the nature and atmosphere of her native South Berwick, Maine, often the setting for her novels and short stories. She was first published at the age of 19 in The Atlantic Monthly and instantly gained a following. Her stories are as much character studies as they are plot-driven, if not more so.

Jewett’s writing is highly descriptive and focuses on life in the country. She is praised for her vivid narratives of women and their inner lives and passions. She was a great influence to female writers during and after her time, most notably, Willa Cather, who considered her a mentor. Her writing career ended after she was in an unfortunate carriage accident.

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Sarah Orne Jewett Quotes

“God would not give us the same talent if what were right for men were wrong for women.”

“Find your quiet center of life and write from that to the world.”

“The thing that teases the mind over and over for years, and at last gets itself put down rightly on paper — whether little or great, it belongs to Literature.” (In a letter to Willa Cather. Quoted in preface to The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories, 1925)

“It seems to me like stealing, for men and women to live in the world and do nothing to make it better.”(A Country Doctor, 1919)

“The thing that teases the mind over and over for years, and at last gets itself put down rightly on paper – whether little or great, it belongs to Literature.”

“Tact is after all a kind of mind reading.” (The Country of Pointed Firs and Other Fiction, 1896)

“It was mortifying to find how strong the habit of idle speech may become in one’s self. One need not always be saying something in this noisy world.” (The Country of Pointed Firs and Other Fiction, 1896)

“It is the people who can do nothing who find nothing to do, and the secret to happiness in this world is not only to be useful, but to be forever elevating one’s uses.”

“It does seem so pleasant to talk with an old acquaintance who knows what you know. I see so many new folks nowadays who seem to have neither past nor future. Conversation has got to have some root in the past, or else you have got to explain every remark you make, and it wears a person out.” (As quoted in Reader’s Digest Vol. 130, 1987)

“There are plenty of people dragging themselves miserably through the world, because they are clogged and fettered with work for which they have no fitness…I can’t help believing that nothing is better than to find one’s work early and hold fast to it, and put all one’s heart into it.” (A Country Doctor, 1919)

“The process of falling in love at first sight is as final as it is swift in such a case, but the growth of true friendship may be a lifelong affair.”

“In the life of each of us, I said to myself, there is a place remote and islanded, and given to endless regret or secret happiness; we are each the uncompanioned hermit and recluse of an hour or a day; we understand our fellows of the cell to whatever age of history they may belong.” (The Country of Pointed Firs and Other Fiction, 1896)

“Be brisk, be splendid, and be public.” (Martha’s Lady, 1897)

“This is a very small world; we are all within hail of each other. I dare say when we get to Heaven there will not be a stranger to make friends with.” (A Country Doctor, 1919)

“The old poets little knew what comfort they could be to a man.” (The Country of Pointed Firs and Other Fiction, 1896)

“So we die before our own eyes; so we see some chapters of our lives come to their natural end.” (The Country of Pointed Firs and Other Fiction, 1896)

“Yes’m, old friends is always best, ‘less you can catch a new one that’s fit to make an old one out of.” (The Country of Pointed Firs and Other Fiction, 1896)

“I’d rather be my honest self
Than any made-up daisy.”
(“Discontent”, in St. Nicholas Magazine, Vol. 3; February 1876)

“Your patience may have long to wait,
Whether in little things or great,
But all good luck, you soon will learn,
Must come to those who nobly earn.
Who hunts the hay-field over
Will find the four-leaved clover.”
(“Perseverance” in St. Nicholas Magazine, Vol. X.September 1883)

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