Mid-Century Maine Women Writers Panel
In partnership with the University of New England’s Maine Women Writers Collection (MWWC), the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) will bring together a distinguished panel of professors to discuss three mid-20th century Maine women writers during this period in history and the significance of their work.
On November 6, UMA will partner with the University of New England (UNE) to present a panel discussion focused on three authors represented in the archives of the MWWC at UNE’s Josephine S. Abplanalp Library. Participating in the panel will be Ellen Taylor, professor of English (UMA); Susan Tomlinson, associate professor of English (UMass Boston); and Joseph Conforti, distinguished professor emeritus (USM). Jennifer S. Tuttle, professor of English at UNE and the director of the MWWC, will facilitate the panel discussion.
The three writers from the MWWC archives who will be highlighted in this program are Elizabeth Coatsworth, Ruth Moore, and Mary Ellen Chase.
Elizabeth Coatsworth, who called Chimney Farm in Damariscotta her home for most of her adult life, was a best-selling children’s book writer, poet, novelist, and essayist on rural Maine living. Very popular during her lifetime, she won the Newbery award for her children’s book The Cat Who Went to Heaven (1930) and wrote over ninety books between 1910 and 1976. Taylor will discuss her MWWC archival findings as they relate to Coatsworth’s travels in the Far East and their influence in writing her celebrated children’s book.
Born and raised in Maine, author Ruth Moore was probably best known in her own time for the novel Spoonhandle (1946), about a Maine island family. This novel sold over a million copies and was made into a major motion picture by 20th Century Fox called Deep Waters (1948), filmed on Vinalhaven, ME. Tomlinson, who has conducted archival research on Moore, will explore the ways in which Moore’s earlier experience working for the NAACP impacted her later writings.
Joseph Conforti will discuss Mary Ellen Chase, who was born and raised in Maine. The author of over thirty books, she wrote a great deal of Maine-based fiction, including the bestselling novel Windswept (1941). In a 1936 interview in the Portland Sunday Telegram, Chase declared that she wrote “largely because I want to acquaint others with the background of Maine life, with the splendid character of Maine people, and with the unsurpassed loveliness of Maine fields, shores, and sea.”
This event, originally scheduled for March but postponed due to COVID-19, is part of University of Maine at Augusta’s bicentennial events exploring the artists, writers, and innovators who shaped and chronicled Maine’s mid-century cultural evolution. Maine’s Mid-Century Moment has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
What Do You Know campaign seeks your input
Be a part of the celebration! Share your memories of Maine’s Mid-Century Moment through our What Do You Know campaign! Oral histories are an important part of any community. If you have a story about a mid-century individual or experience please share it with us via self-addressed stamped postcards disseminated at each event or online, as we seek to illuminate the interconnectedness of the Maine experience at mid-century.
*Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in these programs, resources, and related websites, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
UMA transforms the lives of students of every age and background across the State of Maine and beyond through access to high-quality distance and on-site education, excellence in student support, civic engagement, and professional and liberal arts programs.
UNE is Maine’s largest private university, featuring two distinctive campuses in Maine, a vibrant campus in Tangier, Morocco, and an array of innovative offerings online. Our hands-on, experiential approach empowers students to join the next generation of leaders in their chosen fields. We are home to Maine’s only medical and dental colleges, a variety of other interprofessionally aligned health care programs, and nationally recognized degree paths in the marine sciences, the natural and social sciences, business, the humanities, and the arts. UNE. Innovation for a Healthier Planet.
The MWWC was founded in 1959 by Grace Dow and Dorothy Healy to preserve and make available the writings of Maine women who had achieved literary recognition. Geographically, our holdings concern the state of Maine; Dawnland, the traditional territory of Wabanaki people; and the northern New England region. We collect the work of anyone who identifies as female, femme, transfeminine, or non-binary. While many of the people included in the Collection would self-identify as authors, many others are writers of unpublished material (such as letters) and producers of other forms of creative work.
Event Update (10/30/2020):
Participating in the panel will be Ellen Taylor, professor of English (UMA); Lisa Botshon, professor of English (UMA); and Joseph Conforti, distinguished professor emeritus (USM). Jennifer S. Tuttle, professor of English at UNE and the director of the MWWC, will facilitate the panel discussion. Program note: Susan Tomlinson, associate professor of English (UMass Boston) was originally scheduled to participate and discuss writer Ruth Moore, but she is unexpectedly unable to attend.