Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



In June 2014, I was invited to deliver a lecture on Elizabeth Oakes Smith as part of the Gorman Lecture Series at the Yarmouth History Center, a short distance from Oakes Smith's birthplace. I took the occasion to caution those who base their readings of Oakes Smith's works (and those of other women) on their written autobiographies--as if the life of the woman writer stood as the "origin" the woman-as-author could only "copy." Calling attention to the context of Oakes Smith's writing of her autobiography (at which point her popularity was fading, her family disgraced and most of her friends dead and gone), I compare its description of Oakes Smith's early marriage and literary career to MS correspondence from the 1830s and her account of her ascent of Mt. Katahdin which show dimensions of success and even celebration completely absent from the autobiography scholars have relied so heavily upon.


The work available for download is the final remarks.