Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook

By Denise D. Knight | Go to book overview
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ROSE TERRY COOKE (1827-1892)

Gail C. Keating


BIOGRAPHY

Rose Terry Cooke was born on a farm six miles outside of Hartford, Connecticut, to parents distinguished not only because of their Puritan ancestry but also because of their impressive lineage. Her father, Henry Wadsworth Terry, a landscape gardener, was the son of a Hartford bank president and a descendant of a Wadsworth who had come to Cambridge in 1632 before settling in Hartford in 1636. Her mother was the daughter of John Hurlbut, the first New England shipbuilder to sail around the world. Both parents, however, were respected more for their heritage than for any personal accomplishments since their financial success was tenuous at best and the family lived for the most part on inherited wealth. From her father, Terry gained a knowledge and love of nature since, like Sarah Orne Jewett, her health was delicate, and she spent much of her time driving through and walking in the woods and fields of Connecticut with him. It was from her mother, who insisted she study the dictionary and keep a daily journal, that she received her early training in literature. It was also from her mother, a morbidly conscientious woman, that she inherited her religious nature, which brought about her conversion at sixteen, making her a devoted churchwoman. Due to her family's financial instability, they moved into her grandmother Terry's eighteenth-century mansion in Hartford when she was six, and it was there she became an efficient housekeeper, connecting with the past that was so important to many New England writers. Years later, she still held fond memories of the lavish holiday rituals celebrated at her grandmother's and admired the efficient management of the Terry household.

Rose Terry Cooke's upbringing was typical of young women of her class in

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