University of New England - Innovation for a Healthier Planet

Mid-Century Maine Women Writers panel


November 6, 2020

5:00 pm - 7:00 pm


Ellen Taylor, professor of English (UMA); Joseph Conforti, distinguished professor emeritus (USM); and Susan Tomlinson, associate professor of English (UMass Boston) will participate in a panel discussion. The session will be facilitated by Jennifer Tuttle, professor of English at UNE and director of the Maine Women Writers Collection.

This session will highlight three writers who are represented in the MWWC. Elizabeth Coatsworth was a best-selling children’s book writer, poet, novelist, and essayist on rural Maine living. Very popular during her lifetime, she won the Newbery award for her children’s book The Cat Who Went to Heaven (1930) and wrote over ninety books between 1910 and 1976. Taylor will discuss her MWWC  archival findings as they relate to Coatsworth’s travels in the Far East and their influence in writing her celebrated children’s book. Born and raised in Maine, author Ruth Moore was probably best known in her own time for the novel Spoonhandle (1946), about a Maine island family. This novel sold over a million copies and was made into a major motion picture by 20th Century Fox called Deep Waters (1948), filmed on Vinalhaven, ME. Tomlinson, who has conducted archival research on Moore, will explore the ways in which Moore’s earlier experience working for the NAACP impacted her later writings. Joseph Conforti will discuss Mary Ellen Chase, who was born and raised in Maine. The author of over thirty books, she wrote a great deal of Maine-based fiction, including the bestselling novel Windswept (1941). In a 1936 interview in the Portland Sunday Telegram, Chase declared that she wrote “largely because I want to acquaint others with the background of Maine life, with the splendid character of Maine people, and with the unsurpassed loveliness of Maine fields, shores, and sea.”

This event is part of a project at the University of Maine at Augusta “Maine’s Mid-Century Moment,” which is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.