Makers of Modern American Fiction (Women)

From Mentor Association 1919

“The greatest piece of fiction in America since ‘The Scarlet Letter.’” That was the verdict of Hamilton Wright Mabie on Mary Wilkins Freeman's “Pembroke,” and Mr. Mabie gave expression to an admiration shared by thousands of readers. But years before “Pembroke,” which appeared in 1894, the talent of the author had won recognition. Her first book, “A Humble Romance and Other Stories,” breathed the very soul of gray New England. Then came “A New England Nun” and “The Long Arm,” the last-named a curious experiment and a departure from her legitimate art. The years between 1897 and 1904 were feverishly productive. To that period belong “Jerome; a Poor Man,” “The Heart's Highway,” “Understudies,” “The Wind in the Rose Bush,” and half a dozen others. These novels are histories of New England people and of New England localities, uncompromisingly faithful to fact. Of the author's later books, in some of which she had departed from the New England environment for rural New Jersey, “The Shoulders of Atlas” should be selected for especial mention.