that periodical. The essay contains praise for Freeman's stylistic skill but warns that French readers will be puzzled by the strangeness of the echoings of Puritanism in her writings. The French, she thought, might be at a loss to understand Pembroke. With her essay, Blanc included a translation of "A New England Nun."
In 1956 Edward Foster published the first biography of Freeman, and ten years later, Perry D. Westbrook published a critical study of her writing. ( Westbrook's book appeared in a revised edition in 1988.) Both authors recognized in Freeman a skilled observer of the mores and conditions of New England village life. A recent, extremely valuable contribution is Brent L. Kendrick The Infant Sphinx: Collected Letters of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman. Its main introduction along with introductions to the successive periods in which the letters were written and its copious annotations constitute the fullest and most detailed study of Freeman's life and career yet to appear.
In the 1960s, as the country became increasingly concerned with the status and rights of women in our society and courses in women's studies began to appear in colleges and universities, a keen interest developed in women writers, especially those writing extensively about women. Among such authors, Freeman drew close attention, mainly from women critics. Two collections of her stories appeared, one edited by Michelle Clark and the other by Marjorie Pryse, both with critical introductions. A third volume, edited by Barbara H. Solomon, with a lengthy introduction, contains selected stories by Sarah Orne Jewett as well as by Freeman. Other critics and scholars discussed Freeman in parts of books or in periodical articles, among them Alice Glarden Brand, Leah Blatt Glasser, Susan Allen Toth, and Ann Douglas Wood. With these writers the focus has been primarily on the efforts, successful more often than not, of Freeman's women to overcome harsh social or economic handicaps through their own inner strengths, which they may have long been aware of or which they have not come to realize until a time of crisis. In addition, some of these critics deal perceptively with Freeman's literary skills, for example, in her use of symbols, her creation of atmosphere, and her development of theme and character. After comparative neglect during at least two decades following her death, this renewal of interest in Freeman has restored her reputation to its rightful place among nineteenth-century American authors.
Howells, William Dean. "The Editor's Study." Harper's New Monthly 75 ( September 1987): 640.
Machen, Arthur. Hieroglyphics. 1902. Reprint, London: Unicorn Press, 1960. 173-176.
Matthiessen, Francis Otto. "New England Stories." In American Writers on American Literature, edited by John Macy. New York: Horace Liveright, 1931. 399-413.
Pattee, Fred Lewis. Sidelights on American Literature. New York: Century, 1915. 187.
Westbrook, Perry D. Mary Wilkins Freeman. Rev. ed. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1988. 16-17.