When Jewett published the first sketches for “Deephaven”, she was in love with a young woman, Kate DiCosta Birckhead of Newport, Rhode Island.
The sketches that became “Deephaven” center on two young friends, Kate Lancaster and Helen Denis. The character of Kate Lancaster is believed to be inspired by Kate Di Costa Birckhead. In the novel, the character Kate, “laughingly proposed one evening, as we sat talking by the fire and were particularly contented, that we should copy the Ladies of Llangollen, and remove ourselves from society and its distractions.” (“Deephaven”, Part 13).
The Ladies of Llangollen were two young upper-class Irish women who, in order to escape being pressured into conventional marriages, ran away together to Llangollen and lived together essentially as a couple.