New Chronicles of Rebecca by Kate Douglas Wiggin (1907)
By Taylor Jasmine | On July 7, 2015 | Updated September 23, 2022 | Comments (0)
New Chronicles of Rebecca by Kate Douglas Wiggin is the 1907 companion to the hugely successful Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1903). The original volume is a classic tale of an orphan girl — a trope that was quite popular in this era — finding her way in a world that’s indifferent to her plight.
Rebecca Rowena Randall also, not surprisingly, has to win the hearts and affection of tart maiden aunts who are at first annoyed by having to take her in.
The original Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm was a huge success from the time it was published. It was adapted for the the theater starting in 1910, and was filmed several times. The best-known film adaptation starred Shirley Temple (1938), with a rather altered plot. The book’s success paved the way for the sequel.
New Chronicles of Rebecca is a more like a collection of linked short stories than a single novel, presenting further adventures of Rebecca. Some actually take place concurrently to the time original book, and some as Rebecca grows up, making this more like a companion volume than a sequel.
In this way, New Chronicles of Rebecca is somewhat like L.M. Montgomery‘s later Tales from Avonlea (expanding on the Anne of Green Gables world — another classic spunky orphan girl series) than a proper sequel. Since the first of the Anne of Green Gables series came out in 1908, one has to wonder if her Canadian creator was inspired by Wiggins’ orphaned heroine.
While it wasn’t the smash success of the first volume, fans eagerly awaited more about the sunny and determined Rebecca, and reviewers were kind, as in the following brief review from 1907.
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Kate Douglas Wiggin
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A 1907 review of New Chronicles of Rebecca
From the original review in the Indianapolis News, June, 1907: Kate Douglas Wiggin has complied with the popular demand for “more,” by which the public testified that Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm was to its taste, and has served up a second volume, The New Chronicles of Rebecca, an addition but not, in the particular sense, a sequel to the first book.
Rebecca is such a delightful little girl that it is no wonder Mrs. Wiggins’ readers wished to continue acquaintance with her, though it must be admitted that when an author hearkens to that request, the result often mars the original impression (complete in itself) as though a raconteur should deign to answer the anecdote wrecker’s “And then what happened?”
What’s in Rebecca’s future?
Rebecca’s creator has been wisely kind and still leaves Rebecca’s grown-up future a happy secret, satisfying herself with recounting several of her heroine not touched upon before, although contemporaneous with those of the pink sunshade, the banquet lamp, the missionaries, already known to us.
We find the Misses Sawyer’s niece still puzzling her aunts with the ebullitions of an original personality, composing her poems, and lending an eager hand in the service of humanity as embodied in the neighborhood of Riverboro.
She adopts a motherless baby; she organizes the “Daughters of Zion”; she rescues the stolen flag on the village reprobate in turning over a new leaf. Many pages are given from Rebecca’s “Thought Book” and a hint of romance, though not for Rebecca, comes in at the last. The illustrations by F.C. John give a vitalizing touch to the stories.
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See also: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
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A copy returned to a library after 110 years
Just recently a copy of New Chronicles of Rebecca, borrowed in June 1910, was anonymously returned to a Boise, Idaho public library! A librarian stated to NBC News in this story was quoted:
“New Chronicles of Rebecca — originally checked out from Boise’s Carnegie Public Library in 1910! — was recently returned. With a fine of two cents per day for 111 years, whoever checked out this book would owe $803 — thank goodness the Boise Public Libraries are now fine free!”
And the even better news was that the book is still in great shape after being missing for more than a century.
First Chronicle (how this book begins):
Miss Miranda Sawyer’s old-fashioned garden was the pleasantest spot in Riverboro on a sunny July morning. The rich color of the brick house gleamed and glowed through the shade of the elms and maples.
Luxuriant hop-vines clambered up the lightning rods and water spouts, hanging their delicate clusters here and there in graceful profusion. Woodbine transformed the old shed and tool house to things of beauty, and the flower beds themselves were the prettiest and most fragrant in all the countryside.
A row of dahlias ran directly around the garden spot,—dahlias scarlet, gold, and variegated. In the very centre was a round plot where the upturned faces of a thousand pansies smiled amid their leaves, and in the four corners were triangular blocks of sweet phlox over which the butterflies fluttered unceasingly.
In the spaces between ran a riot of portulaca and nasturtiums, while in the more regular, shell-bordered beds grew spirea and gillyflowers, mignonette, marigolds, and clove pinks.
Back of the barn and encroaching on the edge of the hay field was a grove of sweet clover whose white feathery tips fairly bent under the assaults of the bees, while banks of aromatic mint and thyme drank in the sunshine and sent it out again into the summer air, warm, and deliciously odorous.
The hollyhocks were Miss Sawyer’s pride, and they grew in a stately line beneath the four kitchen windows, their tapering tips set thickly with gay satin circlets of pink or lavender or crimson.
“They grow something like steeples,” thought little Rebecca Randall, who was weeding the bed, “and the flat, round flowers are like rosettes; but steeples wouldn’t be studded with rosettes, so if you were writing about them in a composition you’d have to give up one or the other, and I think I’ll give up the steeples …”
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More about New Chronicles of Rebecca
- Reader discussion on Goodreads
- Full text on Project Gutenberg
- Listen to New Chronicles of Rebecca on Librivox
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