Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. John T. Price
Introduction: The first snow of winter is falling outside my window as I leaf through the pages of Caroline Kirkland’s A New Home, Who’ll Follow? Published under the pseudonym of Mrs. Mary Clavers in 1839, A New Home is the account of early American pioneer Kirkland as she and her family attempt to settle an eight-hundred-acre village in Pinckney, Michigan. In the spring of 1836, Caroline Kirkland, with her husband and four young children, left their home in the East and headed west to unknown territory. The Kirklands were among the hopeful pioneers to go in search of a new home after reading the glamorized – and often fabricated – male adventure tales coming out of the West. Kirkland sarcastically joked of “penetrating the interior,” an expression often used in the male-dominated literature of the era. As Kirkland settled into her new home, she corresponded with friends and family back East. Enthusiasm for her letters, which retold storied from her pioneer experiences, turned into the novel, A New Home. Within three years, Kirkland’s book went into three editions, and by 1855 twelve editions had been published in England and America. Caroline Kirkland went from struggling pioneer to acclaimed author. Although during her lifetime Kirkland enjoyed critical and popular success (Edgar Allen Poe described Kirkland as “an undoubted sensation”), by the early part of the twentieth century, she has largely been left out of American literary histories. Only recently have scholars begun to revisit her timeless writings.
Mack, Elizabeth Diane, "Healing springs." (2007). Student Work. 3510.