Annie Fields (1834-1915) was a well-known author, literary hostess, and social welfare worker in Boston, Mass. Following her marriage in 1854 to James Thomas Fields (1817-1881), editor, author, and partner in the Boston publishing house of Ticknor & Fields, she became intimately involved with many of New England's leading literary figures. Visitors to her Charles Street salon included Amos Bronson Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry James, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Hickling Prescott, and John Greenleaf Whittier. Fields counted among her personal friends Charlotte Cushman, Julia Ward Howe, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Lucy Larcom.
The Annie Fields papers, 1852-1912, consist of 70 volumes and one box of miscellaneous correspondence on three reels of microfilm.
The volumes represent, as Fields intended and so labeled them, a "journal of literary events and glimpses of interesting people." They provide not only a record of her activities, thoughts, and daily routine, but also considerable information on Boston social life and the literary community, incorporating a wealth of reminiscences, reconstructed conversations, anecdotes, and critical analyses of contemporary writing and literary personalities.
The largest item in the collection is a 61-volume diary, 1859-1877, beginning on Reel 1 and continuing onto Reel 2. The diary includes Fields' account of a European tour, detailing her travels, impressions of people and places, and private meetings with Charles Dickens, Alphonse de Lamartine, Alfred Tennyson, and William Makepeace Thackeray. Boston diaries contain descriptions of New England literary figures such as Amos Bronson Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry James, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Hickling Prescott, and John Greenleaf Whittier. Also mentioned are Charlotte Cushman, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Lucy Larcom.
Other items in the Annie Fields papers include: an 1896 diary of a trip to the Caribbean; an 1898 diary of a trip to France; a brief record of meetings of the Home Club, which met occasionally at the Fields house in the winter of 1905; a diary and commonplace book for 1907-1912; two small notebooks, 1877-1878, of Fields' translations of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Roman Elegies; an undated lecture or article on charitable organizations; a scrapbook of newspaper clippings concerning the death of Charles Dickens in 1870; and approximately 75 letters, mostly written to her family from Europe in 1859 and 1869.
The collection also contains two items by James Thomas Fields. The first is an 1847 diary of a tour of England, Scotland, and France. The second consists of notes compiled during an 1875 interview with convicted murderer Jesse Harding Pomeroy.
Portions of Annie Fields' diary have been published in Memories of a Hostess, by Mark Antony De Wolfe Howe (Boston, 1922), and some of the letters in Yesterdays with Authors, by James Thomas Fields (Boston, 1872). Readers may also refer to Authors and Friends, by Annie Fields (Boston, 1896).
Gift of Boylston A. Beal and Zabdiel B. Adams, 1944.
Annie Fields papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.
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