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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Rose Terry Cooke (1827–1892)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
 
ROSE TERRY was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1827, of an old and well-known family, and there nearly all the first half of her life was passed. After that she was little there, spending a number of years with her married sister in Collinsville, and, for fifteen years following her own marriage, in Winsted, Connecticut. The last five years of her life were passed in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where she died in 1892.  1
  An uneventful life, it might be said; but she had the temperament that makes events. Intensity was the keynote of her nature, the source of her gifts and of her defects. In appearance she was tall and slight, with dark hair, and large dark eyes that dominated her slender oval face, and melted or sparkled with the mood or the occasion. This versatility of temper was deeply founded in her, and is manifest in her work, as in the deep overflowing sentiment of her poems and the almost rollicking humor of her stories, or the tenderness suddenly giving way to bitterness.  2
  Her first literary work was in verse; her earliest venture, before she was twelve years old, being some verses sent privately to the Hartford Courant, and appearing there to the great awe and delight of the little author. As time went on, the creative impulse strengthened and took shape, and she became known as a writer of true poetic feeling and fine rhythmical instinct. In 1860 she gathered her poems into a little volume, which won for her a wider recognition. Quite late in life, in 1888, a complete collection of her poems was made; but she had hardly surpassed that earlier work, which included such gems as ‘Then,’ ‘Trailing Arbutus,’ ‘The Fishing Song.’ Besides these, ‘The Two Villages’ and ‘Nounettes’ should be named, as having found their way into many hearts, and as being very perfect specimens of her poetic gift. But it was in her stories that all her rich powers were enlisted. She was one of the first to open by the storyteller’s art New England life to the reading public. This field has since been worked to a finer culture, but she brought to the opening of the ground a racy vigor and freshness, a spontaneity, a sparkle, that we could ill spare for the sake of a more delicate finish, and that make her characters stand out with an almost internal force. Among the best of her stories are ‘Freedom Wheeler’s Controversy with Providence,’ ‘The Deacon’s Week,’ ‘Polly Mariner,’ ‘A Town Mouse and a Country Mouse,’ and ‘Odd Miss Todd.’ But it is hard to make an exclusive choice among them. ‘The Deacon’s Week,’ which she esteemed the best thing she ever did, has had a worldwide fame and usefulness, having been translated into as many as four languages, and widely distributed as a tract. Between the years 1881 and 1891 she gathered her stories into book form, under these titles: ‘Somebody’s Neighbors,’ ‘Root-Bound,’ ‘The Sphinx’s Children,’ ‘Happy Dodd,’ ‘Huckleberries.’ In 1889 appeared her one novel, ‘Steadfast,’ an interesting story with much fine character-drawing. But it is as a writer of short stories of New England life and of some lovely poems that Rose Terry Cooke will live.  3
 
 
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