Sarah Orne Jewett House

Pinny and Fuff

They called each other by nicknames: Sarah was Pinny Lawson, Pinny being a family nickname from her teen years when she was growing tall and her head seemed small in comparison, like a pin; Fuff, Fuffy, Fuffatee, and Mouse were all nicknames Sarah had for Annie.

Annie and Sarah met as Sarah began finding success as a writer. While they shared many mutual friends, it was through James T. Fields—Annie’s husband, Sarah’s publisher—that they first met. An early letter from Sarah to Annie written in 1877, the year Deephaven was published, is a polite inquiry into her Thanksgiving and a commentary on a fellow and feminist writer.

At first Annie and Sarah, living in different worlds, had little in common. In her early forties, Annie Fields was the flower of society adored by the likes of Dickens; Sarah was young for her twenty-eight years, though well-educated and described as lady-like, equal to the task of entering the Boston literary scene.

The marriage of Annie and James Fields was a happy and successful one. When James died suddenly in the spring of 1881, Annie was shattered. She retreated from friends, burying herself in work. The following autumn, Sarah arrived at Charles Street for a condolence visit—these typically lasted about three weeks. Sarah stayed three months and the two were inseparable ever after.