Sarah Orne Jewett House

The Life of Nancy

Sarah Wyman Whitman designed this book cover for Jewett’s The Life of Nancy, 1895.

Whitman believed in applying art to ordinary objects and to everyday life—that life and art were inextricably intertwined.

“You have got to think how to apply elements of design to these cheaply sold books; to put the touch of art on this thing that is going to be produced at a level price, which allows for no handwork, the decoration to be cut with a die, the books to out by the thousand and to be sold at a low price.”

            Sarah Wyman Whitman, addressing the Boston Art Association, 1895

Jewett’s work often brings the reader into the landscape of the everyday to find beauty in the ordinary:

“Nancy reached out her bent and twisted hand and began to speak; then she hesitated, and glanced at her hand again, and looked straight at him with shining eyes.

‘There never has been a day when I haven’t thought of you,’ she said.”

Sarah Orne Jewett (“The Life of Nancy,” 1894)