Annie Adams Fields
Biography of Annie Adams Fields
Annie Adams Fields (June 6, 1834 – January 5, 1915) was a United States writer.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, she was the second wife of the publisher and author James Thomas Fields, whom she married in 1854, and with whom she encouraged up and coming writers such as Sarah Orne Jewett, Mary Freeman, and Emma Lazarus. She was equally at home with great and established figures including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose biography she fearlessly compiled. She was a philanthropist and social reformer; in particular, she founded the Holly Tree Inns, coffeehouses serving inexpensive and nutritious meals, and the Lincoln Street Home, a safe and inexpensive residence for unmarried working women.
1881 - 1915
After Fields' husband died in 1881, she continued to occupy the center of Boston literary life. The hallmark of Fields' work is a sympathetic understanding of her friends, who happened to be the leading literary figures of her time.
Her closest friend was Sarah Orne Jewett, a novelist and story writer whom her husband had published in The Atlantic. Fields and Jewett lived together for the rest of Jewett's life (Jewett died in 1909).
The two were friends with many of the main literary figures of their time, including Willa Cather, Mary Ellen Chase, William Dean Howells, Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Alfred Tennyson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Mark Twain, Sarah Wyman Whitman, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Lydia Maria Child, Charles Dudley Warner and John Greenleaf Whittier.
Fields was a forward-looking, philanthropic and multi-talented woman, who encouraged the talents of others even as she followed the good of the intellect. Although Fields often turns up in the pantheons of 19th century poetry, it is for her short sympathetic biographies that she is now remembered.
Along with the sympathy that Fields brings to her portraits, one will find the clear-eyed judgments that great criticism requires. As Samuel Johnson's "observation with extensive view" had surveyed the eighteenth century scene, Annie Fields' sharp decisive portraits etch the nineteenth century American literary scene.
Fields' literary importance lies primarily in two areas: one is the influence she exerted over her husband in the selection of works to be published by Ticknor and Fields, the major publishing house of the time. He valued her judgement as reflecting a woman's point of view.
Second, Fields edited important collections of letters and biographical sketches. Her subjects included her husband, James T. Fields, John Greenleaf Whittier, Celia Thaxter, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, as well as the Jewett letter collection. While these are not critical, scholarly works (the Jewett collection, especially, is heavily edited), they do provide primary material for the researcher. Her Authors and Friends (1896) is a series of sketches, the best of which are of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Celia Thaxter. Fields' diaries remain unpublished, except for excerpts published by Mark DeWolfe Howe in 1922.
Fields remains a somewhat puzzling figure. Her writings reflect a traditional orientation toward sentimentalism and the cult of true womanhood. However, she was a supporter of "women's emancipation," and her association with Jewett and others suggests a less traditional side. She left for posterity a carefully polished public persona, that of the perfect hostess, the genteel lady, and it is difficult to find the real person underneath.
Annie Adams Fields's Works:
* Ode (1863).
* Asphodel (1866).
* The Children of Lebanon (1872).
* James T. Fields, Biographical Notes and Personal Sketches (1881).
* Under the Olive (1881).
* Whittier, Notes of His Life and of His Friendship (1883).
* Fields became heavily involved in Boston charity work and wrote a social-welfare manual, How to Help the Poor (1883).
* A Week Away from Time (written anonymously, with others, 1887).
* A Shelf of Old Books (1894).
* The Letters of Celia Thaxter (edited by Fields with R. Lamb, 1895).
* The Singing Shepherd, and Other Poems (1895).
* Authors and Friends (1896)
* Life and Letters of Harriet Beecher Stowe (edited by Fields, 1897).
* Nathaniel Hawthorne (1899).
* Orpheus: A Masque (1900).
* The Return of Persephone and Orpheus (1900).
* Charles Dudley Warner (1904).
* Fields edited the Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett (ed., 1911).
* Memories of a Hostess (edited by M. D. Howe, 1922).
* The unpublished diaries of Annie Adams Fields are at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Annie Adams Fields Poems
CAN you hear the sparrow in the lane Singing above the graves? she said. He knows my gladness, he knows my pain,
The Bird Of Autumn
To ----- LATE bird, who singest now alone When woods are silent and the sea Breathes heavily and makes a moan,
My heart is searching for thee, And lost in longing for thy voice! Voice that lies deeper than the permanent sea, Deeper than thought,
Song, To The Gods
“BEHOLD another singer!” Criton said, And sneered, and in his sneering turned the leaf: “Who reads the poets now? They are past and dead:
WE cannot know the child's deep heart, We cannot learn his grief; Though childhood still is dear to man, And the spent time so brief.
Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos! All your gain is not my loss; Spin your black threads if you will; Twist them, turn, with all your skill;
Elizabeth's Chamber: At Amesbury
I ENTERED her half-opened door; A welcome like the voice of seas, When overland their mellow roar Comes homeward on the summer breeze,
AN evening born for dreams! upon the shore Lies the long glory in her vanishing Of day grown tender ere she is no more;
On Waking From A Dreamless Sleep
I WAKED; the sun was in the sky, The face of heaven was fair; The silence all about me lay, Of morning in the air.
The Gift Divine
DIVE, O diver, and bring A pearl for her throat; Dip, O fisher, and sing Lying afloat;
The Patriot's Birthplace
Essex, Massachusetts SILENT, breezy afternoons, Silent, dull November eves
A Thousand Years In
Neither joy nor sorrow move The figure at the feet of Love; Light of breathing life is she, Spirit of immortality.
Still In Thy Love I Trust
STILL in thy love I trust, Supreme o'er death, since deathless is thy essence; For, putting off the dust,
The Hour Ye Know Not
IN the still night, Pallid with moonlight and unstirred by wind, The noisy waves fell crashing on the sand, Saying there will be rain.
Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos!
All your gain is not my loss;
Spin your black threads if you will;
Twist them, turn, with all your skill;
Hold! there's one you cannot sever!
One bright thread shall last forever.
You are defied, you, Atropos!
Draw your glittering shears across, --