Mary Elizabeth Wilson SHERWOOD (1826-1903).
The Sarcasm of Destiny; or, Nina’s experience. A novel. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1878. Octavo (7 3/8 x 4 7/8inches; 187 x 123mm), pp.[1-3-]4-389[-390]; + publ. ads. pp.[1-]6. Original green cloth, blocked in black and gilt (inner hinges split, light damage to head and foot of the spine). Provenance: John Sherwood (d.1894, presentation inscription from the author “To John Sherwood / From his Wife”); by descent.
A first edition and the Author’s presentation copy to her husband.
‘Mary Elizabeth Wilson Sherwood (pen name, M. E. W. S., M.E.W. Sherwood, Mrs. John Sherwood; October 27, 1826 - September 12, 1903) was an American author and socialite. She wrote short stories, poetry, several books, and etiquette manuals, in addition to contributing to many magazines and translating poems from European languages. Among her writings are The Sarcasm of Destiny, A Transplanted Rose, Manners and Social Usages, Sweet Briar, and Roxobel. Better known as Mrs. John Sherwood, some of her literary works were published as "M.E.W.S." or "M.E.W. Sherwood"….
Mary Elizabeth (nickname, "Lizzie") Wilson was born in Keene, New Hampshire, October 27, 1826. She was the eldest daughter of Gen. James (1797-1881; a member of Congress from New Hampshire) and Mary Low (Richardson) Wilson, granddaughter of James (1757-1839; a representative from Keene, N.H., in the 11th congress, 1809–11) and Elizabeth (Steele) Wilson, great-granddaughter of Robert and Mary (Hodge) Wilson, and great-great-granddaughter of William Wilson of Scotch ancestry, who came with his family from the North of Ireland to New Hampshire. Sherwood had three younger brothers and three younger sisters.
When her father was in Congress, the family lived in Washington, D.C., and soon alter his election, Sherwood's mother died, leaving Sherwood the responsibility of taking care of the large family. She was intelligent, acquainted with George Bancroft, John Lothrop Motley, William Cullen Bryant, William H. Prescott, and others. She received a thorough education. Her first literary work, at the age of seventeen, was an essay on the "Novel of Jane Eyre" sent to the New-York Tribune in 1848, which attracted much friendly criticism….
In 1854, while living in Washington, D.C., she married John Sherwood, a lawyer of New York City, who died in 1894. Their family consisted of four sons. James Wilson Sherwood died in infancy. John Philip Sherwood died at the age of 24. Samuel Sherwood became an artist. Arthur Murray Sherwood, the broker, was the father of Robert E. Sherwood, playwright, editor, and screenwriter.
Sherwood's literary work included correspondence with eminent men and women abroad, and many contributions to the Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Bazaar, Scribner's Magazine, Appletons' Journal, the Galaxy, the New-York Tribune, The New York Times, the New York World, and Frank Leslie's Weekly. For years, she was a correspondent for the Boston Traveller. Her work in journals, from Maine to Oregon, would fill many volumes. Among her published books were The Sarcasm of Destiny (New York, 1877); Home Amusements (1881); Amenities of Home (1881); A Transplanted Rose (1882); Manners and Social Usages (1884); Royal Girls and Royal Courts (Boston, 1887); and Sweet Brier (Boston, 1889). She wrote many poems, to which she signed the initials, "M. E. W. S.", and translated some poems from European languages. She contributed some 300 short stories to various magazines and newspapers, many of which appeared anonymously.
For years, Sherwood traveled extensively in Europe. There, she formed the acquaintance of Queen Victoria, and had three interviews with Margherita of Savoy, the Queen of Italy. Among her many testimonials of recognition abroad, she was decorated with the insignia of Officier d'Academie, an honor conferred by the French Minister of Public Instruction on persons who distinguished themselves in literary pursuits. It is said to be the first time this decoration was conferred upon an American woman.
In 1883, the Sherwoods experienced financial losses which forced them to sell their home and furnishings in New York City. In 1885, Sherwood gave readings in her home in aid of the Mount Vernon Fund, and they became so popular, that she continued them for several years, giving the proceeds to charity, realizing over US$10,000 in that way. Her readings comprised essays on travel, literature and history. Sherwood was the president of the "Causeries", a literary club composed of women distinguished in New York society. In Sherwood's parlors hung the original drawings and paintings of her two artist sons. One was by Samuel, of his brother Philip, taken just before Philip's death; several were by Philip. In his name, Sherwood contributed to the funds of the Home for the Destitute Blind, the St. Joseph's Hospital, the Kindergarten for the Blind, the Woman's Exchange, the New York Diet Kitchen, the Manhattan Hospital and Dispensary, the Home of St. Elizabeth and various other schemes to care for children. She also contributed to many institutions known to only her friends, who confided to her sufferings not made public, and especially for women in need and for young women who were striving to fit themselves for a profession by which they could earn a living. She did much to advance literature and science in New York City, being active in benevolent and literary ways. Sherwood died suddenly at the Hotel Majestic, in New York City, September 12, 1903.’ (Wikipedia).