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Harriet E. Prescott Spofford (1835-1921) Papers

Harriet E. Prescott Spofford (1835-1921) Papers

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Open Finding Aid

HARRIET E. PRESCOTT SPOFFORD (1835-1921) PAPERS, 1860-1917





Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:Spofford, Harriet Elizabeth Prescott, 1835-1921
Title:Harriet E. Prescott Spofford (1835-1921) Papers
Dates:1860/1917
Quantity:0.25 linear feet (1 box)
Abstract:The Harriet E. Prescott Spofford papers contain letters by Spofford to her husband, family, friends, and publishers.
Collection Number:MSS 82

Series List


Scope and Content Note

The Harriet E. Prescott Spofford papers contain letters by Spofford to her husband, family, friends, and publishers. The letters have been arranged alphabetically by name of recipient. The collection also includes manuscripts of several poems and a sketch "Kilmeny."


Biographical Sketch

Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Spofford was born in Calais, Maine, on April 3, 1835, the eldest child of Joseph Newmarch and Sarah Jane Bridges Prescott. Her father, a lumber merchant and lawyer, suffered economic reverses and left his family in 1849 in search of better economic opportunities in Oregon. Her mother moved their five children to Newburyport, Massachusetts, where numerous Prescott relatives lived. Harriet attended Putnam Free Academy in Newburyport for four years and the Pinkerton Academy in Derry, New Hampshire, for two.


While in school Spofford's literary interest was encouraged by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, then a Unitarian minister in Newburyport. In 1856, when her father returned from the west as an invalid, Harriet became responsible for the support of her family. In 1859, her first short story, "In a Cellar," was published in the Atlantic Monthly. From the 1860s until her death in 1921 she became one of the most popular and widely published American authors. Her stories, essays, and poems appeared in Harpers, Atlantic Monthly, the Knickerbocker, Scribners, Century, Cosmopolitan, and in juvenile magazines such as the Youth's Companion. Her first novel, Sir Rohan's Ghost, was published in 1860 and her first volume of short stories, The Amber Gods, was published in 1863. Over the next 60 years she consistently published numerous other novels, collections of short stories, and poems. In Titan's Garden (1897) was her best known collection of poems. The Elder's People (1920), a series of realistic stories about New Englanders, was considered her best.


Harriet Prescott married Richard Smith Spofford, a Newburyport lawyer, in 1865. Their only child died as an infant in 1867. In 1874 the Spoffords bought Deer Island on the Merrimack River in Amesbury, Massachusetts, where they resided for the rest of their lives. She died on August 14, 1921.


Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Larcom, Lucy, 1824-1893
Spofford, Richard S. (Richard Smith), 1833-1888
Authors
Letter writing
Poetry
Newburyport (Mass.)

Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.


Administrative Information

Copyright

Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Harriet E. Prescott Spofford (1835-1921) Papers, MSS 82, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.

Provenance

This majority of this material was removed from the autograph collection. Nine letters were purchased on May 22, 1980.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Caroline D. Preston, [1980s]. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, July 2015.


Related Material

Perley and Spofford Family Papers, circa 1860-1918, Acc 2011.025


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