Margaret Wade Campbell Deland collection, 1925-1991
Collection Scope and Content
This collection includes a 1941 letter signed by Deland, a fascinating hand made gift book, photographs and slides of Graywood, published work in periodicals, and a matted and framed ink drawing of Deland’s Kennebunkport living room, 1950.
Margaret Deland was born Margaretta Wade Campbell in Alleghany, Pennsylvania on February 23, 1857. Losing her mother at childbirth and her father just two weeks later, Margaret relied on her aunt, Lois Wade, for care. She grew up in Manchester, Pennsylvania, studying at the Pelham Priory School in New Rochelle, New York, then attended Cooper Union in New York City. She taught drawing for a short period of time at what is now Hunter College, and then in 1880 she married Lorin F. Deland. The couple settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, summering in Kennebunkport, at their home “Graywood.”
Deland was very active in Kennebunkport society. Concerned with social and cultural issues affecting women, Margaret opened her home to 60 unwed mothers and their children for a period of four years. During this time she wrote frequently, and her first published piece, a poem called “The Succory” appeared in Harpers Magazine.
A collection of her poems, The Old Garden and Other Verses, was published in 1886 and in the years following she wrote several more novels, poems, and short story collections. Her first novel, John Ward, Preacher, was published in 1888, and tells the story of a Calvinist minister and his Episcopalian wife who cannot accept the doctrine of eternal damnation. This novel became quite controversial, and sales skyrocketed. The conflict of ideas is a theme that pervades Deland’s subsequent novels, which chronicled the comedy and drama of middle class life. The most popular of these were her short story collections loosely based on the Manchester of her childhood. These include Old Chester Tales (1899), Around Old Chester (1915), An Old Chester Secret (1920) and New Friends in Old Chester (1924). Her “problem” novels were also well received, such as The Awakening of Helena Richie (1906) and The Vehement Flame (1922). She also wrote two autobiographies: If This Be I, As I Suppose It Be (1935) and Golden Yesterdays (1941).
In 1926 she was elected to the National Society of Arts and Letters and awarded with the Legion of Honor by the French government for her relief work in France during World War I. Deland died on January 13, 1945 at the age of 87 in Boston.