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Her Story and Home Page
Mary Rowlandson's story involves more than her famous captivity narrative. Here you can see a map of her journey and view especially created, historically accurate illustrations that help explain things she mentions but doesn't clarify in her book. Here you can also learn about some of the heroes and scoundrels of that time and how they affected her life, captivity, redemption and later life. And here you can learn the unique way her book was originally printed and how it has been modernized and changed over the years. This is the only current version that returns her text to it's original form of typesetting so you can view her original emphases and phrasing and yet still have it be easy to read.
This illustration of the Ground Nut plant was one of several illustrations created especially for this book by artist Terrie Morreale. It is now part of a permanent exhibit on the Ground Nut at the Montauk Point Lighthouse Museum located on the eastern most tip of Long Island, NY.
Who was Mary Rowlandson?
Mary was born in England in the early 1600's and was brought to the colonies by her parents while still a toddler. Her father became one of the founders of the town of Lancaster, in Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was the richest man in the town. In 1656 Mary married Joseph Rowlandson who was a recent graduate of Harvard College and he was ordained as the Puritan minister for Lancaster. Because of their isolated location far from the nearest town and because of the rising prominence of Rev. Rowlandson, their garrison house became the focus of an Indian attack during the King Philip war.
While her husband was away in Boston trying to convince the Colonies leaders to provide military protection for the town the Indians attacked on February 10, 1676. Mary was captured along with her three children, one of whom (her six year old daughter Sarah) was mortally wounded during the surrender. The captives were then taken west and north to what is now south western New Hampshire and Vermont.
Later Mary was brought back to the Mt. Wachusetts area of Massachusetts where she was redeemed by the brave John Hoar, a resident of Concord. Six years later in 1682 she published a narrative of her captivity which became America's first best seller. At that time it was highly unusual for a woman to be a published author. Hers is a story of the triumph of faith over adversity. It provides a first hand description of Indian life during this conflict. The King Philip War, to this day, was proportionately the bloodiest and most destructive war in American history in terms of people killed and property damaged. Mary gives an inside account of how the Indians were doing and how her captivity and her redemption were indirectly instrumental in bringing the war to a close.
Despite the many reprints of her narrative over the years, this is the first time Mary's fascinating book has been illustrated. I felt this was necessary to help the reader understand certain important points. Mary doesn't explain many things because in those days everybody knew what she was talking about. But to the modern reader it can lead to many misconceptions. The illustrations are used to help the reader better understand what she was meant. For example who today knows what a Ground Nut is? Is it nuts they found on the ground? Does she mean ground up nuts? It took years before I found out by accident that a ground nut was a plant which turns out to have a fascinating history of its own. The Ground Nut illustration created especially for this book and shown above has now been included in a permanent museum exhibit on the Ground Nut at the Montauk Point Lighthouse Museum located on the eastern most tip of Long Island.
This edition is also the only modern printing of her original narrative that has now been re-typeset back to the way the oldest existing copy was hand typeset by James the Printer. Over the years since 1682, with each reprinting, the story's wording has been modernized and as a result mistakes have crept in. In one recent modern version the word "flight" was changed to "fight", an important mistake completely changing the understanding of what happened. In this publication the capitalization, spelling, grammar, and italization have all been returned to the original version for more accurate historical interpretation. This is also the only edition that tells the incredible stories of James the Printer, John Hoar and Samuel Moseley all of whom played important roles in the story of Mary's captivity and redemption.
I hope you enjoy this historical classic of American literature.