Mary Rowlandson

Topics: Captivity narrative, Mary Rowlandson, King Philip's War Pages: 4 (1414 words) Published: February 13, 2012
According to Richard VanDerBeets, author of the article "Mary Rowlandson," Mary White Rowlandson holds a secure if modest place in Colonial American literary history as author of the first and deservedly best known New England Indian captivity narrative (266). The written account of her captivity, entitled The Soveraignity of Goodness of God, Together with the Faithfulness of His Promises Displayed; Being a Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, made her one of the first American best sellers with an estimated minimum sale of 1000 in 1682 (Derounian 239). Even though her narrative is the only work scholars have found that she produced, it has put her down in our country's history.

Despite what Rowlandson contributed, her background information is lacking in certainty. Mary Rowlandson, was born Mary White in 1635, however new evidence suggests that circa 1637 is more accurate, in England to John and Joan White. The Whites were early settlers of Lancaster, Massachusetts. Pending on the year Mary was born, she was either twenty or twenty-two when she married Reverend Joseph Rowlandson in the year 1656. Mary and Joseph had four children; however, only two survived: Mary, January 15, 1657/8, who died January 20, 1660/ 1; Joseph, March 7, 1661/ 2; Mary (again), August 12, 1665; and Sarah, September 15, 1669, who died nine days after the family was captured (Greene 24). To David Greene, author of New Light on Mary Rowlandson, Mary Rowlandson's description of Sarah's death and of her unwillingness to leave her child's body is one of the most moving passages in Colonial literature (24):

About two hours in the night, my sweet Babe like a Lambe departed this life, on Feb. 18, 1675. It being about six yeares and five months old. It was nine days from the first wounding, in this miserable condition, without any refreshing of one nature or other, except a little cold water. I cannot but take notice, how at another...

Cited: Burnham, Michelle. "The Journey Between: Liminality and Dialogism in Mary White Rowlandson 's Captivity Narrative." Early American Literature 28(1) (1993): 60-67
Cushman, Stephen, and Paul Newlin. eds. Nation of Letters: Concise Anthology of American Literature. Vol. 1. St. James: Brandywine Press, 1998.
Derounian, Kathryn. "The Publication, Promotion, and Distribution of Mary Rowlandson 's Indian Captivity Narrative in the Seventeenth Century." Early American Literature 23 (1988).
Greene, David. "New Light on Mary Rowlandson." Early American Literature 20 (1988).
VanDerBeets, Richard. "Mary Rowlandson." Dictionary of Literary Biography: American Colonial Writers 1606-1734. Ed. Emory Elliot. Vol. 245. Michigan: Bruccoli Clark Book, 1984.
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