Mary E. Wilkins Freeman dining with Mark Twain at Delmonico’s restaurant in New York City in 1905 Credit: Byron Company / Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Thursday September 19, 7PM at Brooks Memorial Library

224 Main Street, Brattleboro VT 05301

Notable 19th century Brattleboro author Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, best known for her stories and novels of life in New England villages, will be featured at the monthly Brattleboro Words Project Roundtable Discussion on Thursday, September 19, 7 PM, in the Main Room at Brooks Memorial Library in Brattleboro, Vermont. Freeman was a prolific writer who in her 50-year writing career published 22 volumes of short stories, 14 novels, over 50 uncollected short stories and prose essays, three plays, and one motion picture play. Both Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling greatly admired her work.

A short film based on and titled after Freeman’s short story, “The Revolt of Mother,” (1988, 47 minutes), will be screened at Brooks Memorial Library, beginning at 7 PM, followed by a  discussion of the themes found in the short story and the film.

“The Revolt of Mother” is one of Freeman’s best-known story, of the 250+ she wrote. It was included in her 1891 collection, A New England Nun and Other Stories. Set in mid-19th century rural New England, the story’s central character, Sarah Penn (played by Academy Award-nominated Amy Madigan), has long-endured their inadequate farmhouse. The story begins as Sarah discovers that the men working for her husband in the dooryard are putting in a foundation, not for her new house, but for a fancy new barn.

A copy of the short story will be available at the library’s circulation desk to read, and anyone may download a copy of the story for free at brattleborowords.org/mwf

Born in Randolph, Massachusetts in 1852, Mary E. Wilkins moved to Brattleboro as a teen with her family in 1867. Her father, Warren, owned and operated the Wilkins Dry Goods store located on the Steen block approximately where Renaissance Jewelers and the River Gallery are located now on Main St. While in Brattleboro Mary attended Brattleboro High School, which is now the Brattleboro Municipal Building, and the Glenwood Ladies Seminary in West Brattleboro. A Vermont State Historic Marker will be dedicated to Mary and Glenwood Ladies Seminary later in the Fall.

As part of the 18th Brattleboro Literary Festival, Brent Kendrick, author of The Collected Letters of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, will discuss Mary’s life in Brattleboro, on Thursday, October, 17, at 7:00 PM, in the Brooks Memorial Library’s Main Reading Room.

Mary E. Wilkins began her writing career in Brattleboro by publishing poems in the newspaper, Vermont Phoenix,  and  in several children’ magazines. Over the course of her fifty-year career her writing earned national acclaim and the admiration of America’s most celebrated literary figures. She was a guest of Rudyard Kipling at his Dummerston home in 1892. She married Charles Freeman in 1902. In 1925 the American Academy of Arts and Letters unanimously awarded her the first William Dean Howells Medal for distinguished work in fiction.

The Brattleboro Words Project is a multi-year collaboration of Marlboro College, Brattleboro Historical Society, Brattleboro Literary Festival, Write Action and Brooks Memorial Library backed by a National Endowment for the Humanities matching grant with support from The Windham Foundation, Edward Jones, Brattleboro Savings & Loan and other local businesses and individuals.

The Project seeks public participation in the research, writing and creation of walking, biking and driving tours of our area’s history of words, also known as the ‘Brattleboro Words Trail.’ The Words Project is also producing a book on Brattleboro’s printing and publishing history, placing historic markers, and hosting many events as part of the October Brattleboro Literary Festival and throughout the year. For more information visit: www.brattleborowords.org.