Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Biography of Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Dorothy Canfield Fisher (February 17, 1879 – November 9, 1958) was an educational reformer, social activist, and best-selling American author in the early decades of the twentieth century. She was named by Eleanor Roosevelt as one of the ten most influential women in the United States. Dorothy Canfield worked with Maria Montessori when in Rome in 1911-12, wrote A Montessori Mother (1912) and brought the Montessori method of child-rearing to the United States. She wrote Why Stop Learning? (1927) and presided over the country's first adult education program, and shaped literary tastes by serving as a member of the Book of the Month Club selection committee from 1925 to 1951.

Her best-known work today is probably Understood Betsy, a children's book about a little orphaned girl who is sent to live with her cousins in Vermont. Though the book can be read purely for pleasure, it also describes a schoolhouse which is run much in the style of the Montessori method, for which Canfield was one of the first and most vocal advocates. Dorothy Canfield also wrote The Bent Twig (1915), Home Fires in France (1918), The Day of Glory (1919), The Brimming Cup (1921), Rough-Hewn (1922) and The Home-Maker (1924), which was reprinted by Persephone Books in 1999. Later novels are Her Son's Wife (1926), The Deepening Stream (1930), Seasoned Timber (1939). A collection of 17 of her stories was Four Square (1949).

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