Sarah Orne Jewett House

Horse and Carriage

Sarah and the Jewett family loved their horses, and the well-being of such family favorites as Fancy and Princess is a matter of concern discussed in family letters.

Sarah’s own horse, Sheila, held a special place in her heart. Named after the spirited (and considered pre-feminist) heroine of The Princess of Thule (1873) by William Black, lively Sheila was Sarah’s partner in the unleashing of pent-up energy through the fields and woods of Southern Maine. Sheila also represented for Sarah the independence of financial success; Sarah purchased the horse after the success of her first novel, Deephaven.

The horse pictured here is probably not Sheila, but Jewett’s fondness for her horses comes through in this quote:

“It was a fine afternoon, just warm enough and just cool enough, and I started off alone on horseback, though I do not know why I should say alone when I find my horse such good company. She is called Sheila, and she not only gratifies one’s sense of beauty, but is very interesting in her character, while her usefulness in this world is beyond question. I grow more fond of her every week; we have had so many capital good times together, and I am certain that she is as much pleased as I when we start out for a run.

… I believe I should not like her half so well if she were tamer and entirely and stupidly reliable; I glory in her good spirits and I think she has a right to be proud and willful if she chooses. I am proud myself of her quick eye and ear, her sure foot, and her slender, handsome chestnut head. I look at her points of high breeding with admiration, and I thank her heartily for all the pleasure she has given me, and for what I am sure is a steadfast friendship between us, — and a mutual understanding that rarely knows a disappointment or a mistake.”

–Sarah Orne Jewett (“An October Ride”, 1881)