All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Kate Douglas Wiggin

Katherine Smith was a fan of Charles Dickens, so she was disappointed not to get a ticket to the British writer's 1868 appearance in Portland. Her mother gave her a train trip to Boston as a consolation prize. Somewhere along the route, the girl noticed that Dickens was on board. She managed to slip away from her mother and grab a seat next to him.
"God Bless my soul. Where did you come from?" said Dickens.

"I came from Hollis, Maine," the girl replied.

The girl would grow up to become children's author Kate Douglas Wiggin. By happenstance as a child on a train rattling over the rails to Beantown from Portland, she met and talked with Charles Dickens, the author who brought to life characters like David Copperfield and Ebenezer Scrooge. [Link]
Though born in Philadelphia, Wiggin came to Hollis at age seven with her mother and step-father. She began her formal education at Gorham Female Seminary, but continued it out of state. She returned to Hollis in the early 1890s, and kept a summer home there for many years. She and her sister Nora founded the Salmon Falls Library, and were the first presidents of the Dorcas Society of Hollis and Buxton. Wiggin's best-known work was "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm," which has four times been dramatized on film and television.

The 150th anniversary of Wiggin's birth will be celebrated at this weekend's Buxton Community Day. Her hero's great-great grandson, British actor Gerald Dickens, will be performing.

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