Helen Hunt Jackson (H.H.)

Helen Hunt Jackson (H.H.)

Helen Hunt Jackson (H.H.)

Helen Hunt Jackson (H.H.)

Excerpt

What appears a singular neglect by biographers of so significant a figure as Helen Hunt Jackson ("H.H."), author of Ramona and A Century of Dishonor, and one of the bestknown writers of her era, is easily explained. During her lifetime she was averse to publicity; and, before her death, requested that if a life of her had to be written it should be by no one but Mr. Hamilton W. Mabie. Members of her family, respecting her wishes, discouraged all attempts at a biography. Mr. Mabie died without writing one. In consequence, only short sketches or books treating her California period have appeared, and these, for the most part, are inaccurate and contradictory.

As legends about her continue to multiply, the fact emerges that the real Helen Hunt Jackson is being displaced by a curiously distorted and wholly false simulacrum, which even her sense of humor, abundant though it was, would not enable her to dismiss with a shrug, could she return today. She would smile to learn that in her beloved South California the given name of Ramona is legion; she would find it "delicious" and "droll" that the centenary of her birth was celebrated a year too late; and she would appreciate the irony of the claim that she had a rival for her husband's affections in the person of Emily Dickinson; but her love of justice, her passion for honesty at any cost, would be outraged. She would sanction, I am sure, this present invasion of her privacy in the interest of biographical accuracy.

RUTH ODELL

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