Margaret Deland

Margaret Deland (née Margaretta Wade Campbell) (February 23, 1857 January 13, 1945) was an American novelist, short story writer, and poet. She also wrote an autobiography in two volumes. She is generally considered part of the literary realism movement.

Margaret Deland
Deland sometime before 1894
BornMargaretta Wade Campbell
(1857-02-23)February 23, 1857
Allegheny, Pennsylvania
Died(1945-01-13)January 13, 1945
OccupationNovelist, short story writer and poet


Margaretya Wade Campbell was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania (today a part of Pittsburgh) on February 23, 1857. Her mother died due to complications from the birth and she was left in the care of an aunt named Lois Wade and her husband Benjamin Campbell Blake.[1]

On May 12, 1880, she married Lorin F. Deland. Her husband had inherited his father's publishing company, which he sold in 1886 and worked in advertising.[1] It was at this period she began to write, first authoring verses for her husband's greeting-card business.[1] Her first poem was published in the March 1885 issue of Harper's New Monthly Magazine and her first poetry collection, The Old Garden and Other Verses, was published in late 1886 by Houghton Mifflin.[2] Her first novel, John Ward, Preacher, was published in 1888.[2]

Deland and her husband moved to Boston, Massachusetts and, over a four-year span, they took in and supported unmarried mothers at their residence at 76 Mount Vernon Street on Beacon Hill. They also maintained a summer home, Greywood, overlooking the Kennebunk River in Kennebunkport, Maine.[3] It was in this home that Canadian actress Margaret Anglin visited in 1909 and the two women looked over Deland's manuscript for The Awakening of Helena Richie. As Anglin reported, "I never spent a pleasanter time than I did while Mrs. Deland and I chugged up and down the little Kennbunkport [sic] River in a boat, talking over the future of Helena Richie."[4] The Delands kept their summer home in Maine for about 50 years.[3]

In 1910, Deland wrote an article for the Atlantic Monthly recognizing the ongoing struggles for women's rights in the United States: "Restlessness!" she wrote, "A prevailing discontent among women — a restlessness infinitely removed from the content of a generation ago."[5] During World War I, Deland did relief work in France; she was awarded a cross from the Legion of Honor for her work.[1] "She received a Litt.D. from Bates College in 1920. In 1926, she was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters[1] along with Edith Wharton, Agnes Repplier and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman. The election of these four women to the organization was said to have "marked the letting down of the bars to women."[6] Deland was also a member of an informal women's social club which met regularly and included Amy Beach, Alice Howe Gibbens (wife of William James), and Ida Agassiz (wife of Henry Lee Higginson).[7]

By 1941, Deland had published 33 books.[3] She died in Boston at the Hotel Sheraton, where she then lived, in 1945.[8] She is buried at Forest Hills Cemetery. Her home on Mount Vernon Street is a stop on the Boston Women's Heritage Trail.[9]

Critical response

Deland is known principally for the novel John Ward, Preacher (1888), an indictment of Calvinism, which became a best-seller.[10] Her 'Old Chester' books, based on her early memories of the Pittsburgh communities where she grew up — including Maple Grove and Manchester — were also popular. She was recognized as an important and popular author of literary realism in the United States, though some of her plots and themes were shocking to proper Bostonians.[10] In her lifetime she was called the American Thomas Humphry Ward and was compared to Elizabeth Gaskell.[1]

Selected works

  • The Old Garden and other verses (1886) (Internet Archive e-text)
  • The Old Garden with illustrations by Walter Crane (1893)
Short story collections
  • Mr. Tommy Dove, and Other Stories (1893)
  • The Wisdom of Fools (1897)
  • Old Chester Tales (1898)
  • The Common Way (1904)
  • R.J.'s Mother and Some Other People (1908)
  • Around Old Chester (1915)
  • Small Things (1919)
  • New Friends in Old Chester (1924)
  • Old Chester Days (1935)
  • If This be I, as I Suppose it Be (1935)
  • Golden Yesterdays (1941)
Other nonfiction
  • Florida Days (1889)


  1. Levenson, J. C. Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary (Edward T. James, editor). Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971: Vol. I, 454. ISBN 0674627342
  2. Filer, Ruth Maxa. Margaret Deland Writing Toward Insight. Bloomington, IN: Balboa Press, 2014: 6. ISBN 978-1-4525-9119-3
  3. Burr, Steven (2005). The Kennebunks in Season. Charleston, South Carolina. p. 102.
  4. LeVay, John. Margaret Anglin: A Stage Life. Toronto: Dundurn, 1989: 116. ISBN 0-88924-206-2
  5. Wetzsteon, Ross. Republic of Dreams: Greenwich Village: The American Bohemia, 1910-1960. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2007: 166. ISBN 0-684-86995-0
  6. "First Women Elected to Institute of Arts; Edith Wharton Among the Four Chosen – American Academy Makes Two Men Members," New York Times. November 12, 1926.
  7. Block, Adrienne Fried. Amy Beach, Passionate Victorian: The Life and Work of an American Composer, 1867–1944. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998: 110. ISBN 0-19-507408-4
  8. "Margaret Deland, Writer, Dies at 87 (abstract)". The New York Times. January 14, 1945. Retrieved June 1, 2010.
  9. "Beacon Hill". Boston Women's Heritage Trail.
  10. Lang, Eleanor. Art of the Real World: Eight American Women Realists. Rowman & Littlefield, 1979: 173. ISBN 0808404245
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