Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman

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"Mary Freeman" redirects here. For the American swimmer, see Mary Freeman (swimmer). For the politician in Iowa, see Mary Lou Freeman.
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Mary E Wilkins Freeman 2.jpg
Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman
Born (1852-10-31)October 31, 1852
Died March 13, 1930(1930-03-13) (aged 77)
Occupation Novelist
Nationality United States
Notable works A New England Nun


Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman (October 31, 1852 – March 13, 1930) was a prominent 19th-century American author.


She was born in Randolph, Massachusetts, and attended Mount Holyoke College (then, Mount Holyoke Female Seminary) in South Hadley, Massachusetts, for one year, from 1870–71. Freeman's parents were orthodox Congregationalists, causing her to have a very strict childhood.[1] Religious constraints play a key role in some of her works. She later finished her education at West Brattleboro Seminary. She passed the greater part of her life in Massachusetts and Vermont.

Freeman began writing stories and verse for children while still a teenager to help support her family and was quickly successful. While working as secretary to the author and physician, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., she began writing poetry and novels with a strong New England regional flavor. When the supernatural caught her interest, the result was a group of short stories which combined domestic realism with supernaturalism and these have proved very influential. Her best known work was written in the 1880s and 1890s while she lived in Randolph. She produced more than two dozen volumes of published short stories and novels. She is best known for two collections of stories, A Humble Romance and Other Stories (1887) and A New England Nun and Other Stories (1891). Her stories deal mostly with New England life and are among the best of their kind. Freeman is also remembered for her novel Pembroke (1894), and she contributed a notable chapter to the collaborative novel The Whole Family (1908). In 1902 she married Dr. Charles M. Freeman of Metuchen, New Jersey.

In April 1926, Freeman became the first recipient of the William Dean Howells Medal for Distinction in Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She died in Metuchen and was interred in Hillside Cemetery in Scotch Plains, New Jersey.


  • Decorative Plaques (1883)
  • The Adventures of Ann (1886)
  • A Humble Romance and Other Stories (1887)
  • A New England Nun and Other Stories (1891)
  • The Revolt of Mother (1891) [2]
  • Young Lucretia and Other Stories (1892)
  • The Pot of Gold and Other Stories (1892)
  • Jane Field (1892)
  • Giles Corey (1893)
  • Pembroke (1894)
  • Comfort Pease and Her Gold Ring (1895)
  • Madelon (1896)
  • Once Upon A Time (1897)
  • Jerome, a Poor Man (1897)
  • Silence, and other Stories (1898)
  • People of Our Neighborhood (1898)
  • In Colonial Times (1899)
  • The Jamesons (1899)
  • Evelina's Garden (1899)
  • The Love of Parson Lord and Other Stories (1900)
  • The Heart's Highway: A Romance of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century (1900)
  • Understudies (1901)
  • The Portion of Labor (1901)
  • A Far-Away Melody and Other Stories (1902)
  • Six Trees (1903)
  • The Wind in the Rose Bush and Other Stories of the Supernatural (1903)
  • The Givers and Other Stories (1904)
  • The Debtor (1905)
  • Doc Gordon (1906)
  • The Fair Lavinia, and Others (1907)
  • By the Light of the Soul (1907)
  • The Shoulders of Atlas (1908)
  • The Winning Lady, and Others (1909)
  • The Green Door (1910)
  • The Butterfly House (1912)
  • The Yates Pride (1912)
  • The Copy–Cat, and Other Stories (1914)
  • An Alabaster Box (1917)
  • Edgewater People (1918)
  • The Best Stories of Mary E. Wilkins (1927)
  • Collected Ghost Stories (1974)



  1. ^ Freeman, Mary E. Wilkins. "The Norton Anthology of American Literature". seventh ed. Vol. C. Ed. Nina Baym. New York: Norton & Company, 2007. Pg. 625-26.
  2. ^ This story was reprinted in the source following, which says it was copyrighted 1891 by Harper and Brothers. The Independent / Harper's Weekly, April 21, 1917, p. 172. PDFs of the story are available online at several sites.


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