Neglected Women Writers’ Month: Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Dorothy Canfield Fisher is published by both Persephone and Virago, but I have personally found her books rather difficult to get hold of thus far, and have therefore decided to include her as part of Neglected Women Writers’ Month.  She had an absolutely fascinating life, and did many admirable things, including her overseeing of the United States’ first adult education program, and serving as a judge on the Book of the Month’s selection committee between 1925 and 1951.
clfisher1.png__320x295_q85_subsampling-2Named after Dorothea in George Eliot’s Middlemarch, Dorothea Frances Canfield was born in Kansas in February 1879.  She earnt a doctoral degree from Columbia in 1904, and was the first woman to receive an honorary degree from Dartmouth College.  Dorothea Canfield married John Redwood Fisher in 1907, had two children, and spent all of her adult life in Vermont, which served as the setting for many of her books.  During the First World War, she travelled to France where her husband was stationed, raising her two young children in Paris, and working to establish a Braille press for soldiers who had been blinded.  Alongside her novels, Dorothy Canfield Fisher also published several short story collections, and a plethora of non-fiction works.

“… there are two ways to meet life; you may refuse to care until indifference becomes a habit, a defensive armor, and you are safe – but bored. Or you can care greatly, live greatly, until life breaks you on its wheel.”

Bibliography (Novels):

  • Gunhild (1907)
  • The Squirrel-Cage (1912)
  • The Bent Twig (1915)
  • The Real Motive (1916).
  • Fellow Captains (1916)
  • Understood Betsy (1917)
  • Home Fires in France (1918)
  • The Day of Glory (1919)
  • The Brimming Cup (1921)
  • Rough-Hewn (1922)
  • The Home-Maker (1924)
  • Her Son’s Wife (1926)
  • The Deepening Stream (1930)
  • Bonfire (1933)
  • Seasoned Timber (1939)


– The Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, to praise young readers in Vermont, was set up in her honour.  Read about it here.
– The friendship of Dorothy Canfield Fisher and Willa Cather is fascinatingly analysed here.



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