Jane Goodwin Austin (February 25, 1831 - March 30, 1894) was an American writer, notable for her popular stories of the time. During her lifetime, she was the author of 24 books and numerous short stories. Her friends throughout her life were some of the most well-known American authors, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott.
Early years and education
Jane Goodwin was born on February 25, 1831, in Worcester, Massachusetts, to Isaac Goodwin and Elizabeth Hammatt. Her parents were from Plymouth and could trace eight distinct family lines back to the Pilgrims. Jane's father, a lawyer, antiquary and genealogist, died in 1833, when she was only two. Behind him, he left a large archive of historical and legal documents from the Pilgrims, the whereabouts of which are unknown today. Her brother, John A. Goodwin, wrote a book on the Pilgrims, The Pilgrim Republic. Her mother was a poet and songwriter, and told Jane many stories of her ancestors, especially of Francis Le Baron — the nameless nobleman — and his descendants. As a child, she was educated at nine different private schools in Boston.
Austin's most popular works were her Pilgrim stories, for which she relied on family lore, archival research, and a creative imagination. Becoming a Pilgrims specialist, Austin pledged her later years to developing their story. Four of her books, namely: Standish of Standish, Betty Alden, The Nameless Nobleman, and Dr. Le Baron and his Daughters, cover the era from the landing of the Pilgrims upon Plymouth Rock, in 1620. to the days of the American Revolution, in 1775, and a fifth volume was developed to complete the series. She wrote a great number of magazine stories and some poems. Her principal books were: Fain-Dreams (Boston, 1859); Dora Darling (Boston, 1865); Outpost (Boston, 1866); Tailor Boy (Boston, 1865); Cypher (New York, 1869); The Shadow of Moloch Mountain (New York, 1870); Moon-Folk (New York, 1874); Mrs. Beauchamp Brown (Boston, 1880); The Nameless Nobleman (Boston, 1881) Nantucket Scraps (Boston, 1882); Standish of Standish (Boston. 1889); Dr. Le Baron and his Daughters (Boston, 1890); and Betty Alden (Boston, 1891). Although a prolific writer, she always wrote carefully and in finished style. Her contributions to the literature of early New England possessed a rare value from her intimate knowledge of the pioneers of the eastern colonies gained from thorough reading and tradition. Her work is distinctly American in every essential way.
Her last works deal almost wholly with characters from Colonial and Revolutionary history. At the time of her death, she was engaged upon a story which followed the fortunes of the Aldens and others of the Plymouth Colony in the migration to Little Compton or Sakonnet Point, Rhode Island.
In 1850, she married Loring Henry Austin, a descendant of an old Boston family which figured largely in the Revolution.. He was also a classmate of James Russell Lowell. She had three children.
She lived for several years in Cambridge, and afterward in Concord, but her later life was chiefly spent in Boston. She also lived with a married daughter in Roxbury, passing a part of the winter in Boston in order to be near her church, and every summer returning to Plymouth, where she constantly studied not only written records, but crumbling gravestones and oral tradition.
She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and served as historian of the Massachusetts State Society.
- Fairy Dreams; or, Wanderings in Elf-Land. Boston: Tilton, 1859.
- Kinah's Curse! Or, The Downfall of Carnaby Cedars. Boston: Elliott, Thomes & Talbot, 1864.
- The Tailor Boy. J. E. Tilton & Co, 1865.
- Dora Darling: The Daughter of the Regiment. Boston: Tilton, 1865.
- The Novice; or, Mother Church Thwarted. Boston: Elliott, Thomes & Talbot, 1865.
- The Outcast; or, The Master of Falcon's Eyrie. Boston: Elliott, Thomes & Talbot, 1865.
- Outpost. Boston: Tilton, 1867.
- Cipher: A Romance. New York: Sheldon, 1869.
- The Shadow of Moloch Mountain. New York: Sheldon, 1870.
- Moonfolk: A True Account of the Home of the Fairy Tales. New York: Putnam, 1874.
- Mrs. Beauchamp Brown. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1880.
- A Nameless Nobleman. Boston: Osgood, 1881.
- The Desmond Hundred. Boston: Osgood, 1882.
- Nantucket Scraps: Being the Experiences of an Off-Islander, in Season and Out of Season, Among a Passing People. Boston: Osgood, 1883.
- The Story of a Storm. New York: Lupton, 1886.
- Standish of Standish: A Story of the Pilgrims. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1889.
- Dolores. New York: Lupton, 1890.
- Dr. LeBaron and His Daughters. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1890.
- Betty Alden: The First Born Daughter of the Pilgrims. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1891.
- David Alden's Daughter and Other Stories of Colonial Times. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1892.
- It Never Did Run Smooth. New York: Lupton, 1892.
- Queen Tempest. New York: Ivers, 1892.
- The Twelve Great Diamonds. New York: Lupton, 1892.
- The Cedar Swamp Mystery. New York: Lupton, Lovell, 1901.
She also wrote a great number of magazine stories and some poems.