Mary White was born in Somerset, England, around 1637; she emigrated to Salem, Massachusetts, with her parents, Joan and John White, and her nine siblings. Little is known of her life until 1656 when she married Reverend Joseph Rowlandson of Lancaster, Massachusetts. They had three surviving children. White Rowlandson's life was radically altered during King Philip's War ( 1675-1678). On February 10, 1676, Narragansett warriors attacked the settlement of Lancaster. White Rowlandson and her three children (Joseph, 14 years; Mary, 10 years; and Sarah, 6 years) were taken captive. Sarah died shortly after their capture, and White Rowlandson was separated from Joseph and Mary. After she was ransomed by her husband on May 2, the family resided in Boston for five years and then moved to Wethersfield, Connecticut where her husband soon died, and she married Captain Samuel Talcott in August 1679.
Three years later, Mary White Rowlandson published a narrative of her captivity experiences. Although the Narrative became one of the first best-sellers in America, it was the only literature White Rowlandson ever wrote. She graphically detailed her experiences and recounted her spiritual struggles during her ordeal as well as the poignant realities of her psychological state after her return. If the Narrative dramatically relates one woman's courage under horrendous conditions, its depiction of the Algonkian people as savages and monsters is typical of Puritan representations of a race that they never acknowledged as equals. Mary White Rowlandson died in Wethersfield on January 5, 1711.
Works: The Soveraignty and the Goodness of GOD, Together With the Faithfulness of His Promises Displayed; Being a Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson ( 1682). Bibliography: Breitwieser; Derounian, "The Publication . . . of Mary Rowlandson's Indian Captivity Narrative"; Greene; Lang, "Introduction".