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Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman was born on October 31, 1852 in Randolph, Massachusetts. Her parents were orthodox Congregationalists and this resulted in a strict religious upbringing much of which seeped into her later writing. Mary was quickly successful writing stories and verse for children as a teenager. As a secretary to the author and physician, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., she began writing poetry and novels with a strong New England regional flavor. In her twenties she developed an interest in the supernatural and the result was a collection of short stories which combined domestic realism with supernaturalism and these have proved very influential. Her best known work was written in the 1880s and 1890s while she lived in Randolph. She is best known for two collections of stories, A Humble Romance and Other Stories (1887) and A New England Nun and Other Stories (1891). Her stories deal mostly with New England life and are among the best of their kind. Freeman is also remembered for her novel Pembroke (1894). In 1902 she married Dr. Charles M. Freeman of Metuchen, New Jersey. She wrote a great deal and published constantly to 1918 and the tide of work seemed to slow. By April 1926, Mary became the first recipient of the William Dean Howells Medal for Distinction in Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She died in Metuchen on March 13th, 1930 and was interred in Hillside Cemetery in Scotch Plains, New Jersey.

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