“A Friendship in Books”
Sarah Orne Jewett wrote a number of stories for young readers: Play Days (1878), a collection of fifteen stories for children; Betty Leicester: A Story for Girls (1890), a longer work, and its sequel, Betty Leicester’s Christmas (1899). Jewett also wrote thirty-one uncollected stories for children between 1870 and 1903, over the course of her entire career.
Of these children’s works, Betty Leicester was quite successful. The wholesomeness of the story was popular with mothers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Jewett received fan mail from young readers about the book, including Miss Mary E. Mulholland, age thirteen, to whom Jewett responded:
“I am sure that you must like a great many other books since you like these stories of mine. And I am so glad, because you will always have the happiness of finding friendships in books, and it grows pleasanter and pleasanter as one grows older. And then the people in books are apt to make us understand ‘real’ people better, and to know why they do things, and so we learn sympathy and patience and enthusiasm for those we live with, and can try to help them in what they are doing, instead of being half suspicious and finding fault.”
-Sarah Orne Jewett, January 23, 1899 (Sarah Orne Jewett, Series A: Correspondence 1879-1908, Folder A48: to Mary E Mulholland. 1899 1 ALS. Boston, MA. 4 p., Special Collections, Colby College, Waterville, Maine)