Sarah Orne Jewett House

Martha’s Lady

First published in 1897 and collected in “The Queen’s Twin and Other Stories” in 1899, “Martha’s Lady” tells the story of a servant who loves so transcendently a young woman she knows only for a short time one summer, that she devotes her life to this love. Martha’s yearning, looking in the mirror and wishing she saw the face of Helena, the woman she loves, reminds the contemporary reader of Jewett’s letters to Annie, one in particular, “Kiss the mirror and play it was [me]!”*

Another contemporary view of the story proposes a jealous third party, in the character of Martha’s female employer.

*MS Am 1743 (157), Houghton Library, Harvard University