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as a cabin boy. No one knew her real name, so the townspeople called her Perdita.

Theodore was quite taken with the tale and decided to pass it along to his sister Catharine, then a budding novelist. As a young woman, Catharine Sedgwick’s conversion from Calvinism to Unitarianism inspired her to write a novel, A New England Tale. A second novel, Redwood in 1824, was highly praised and compared favorably with the works of James Fenimore Cooper, then at the height of his popularity. The demand for her work, sometimes referred to as “domestic fiction,” made her one of the most notable female novelists of her time. For 30 years, Sedgwick made a good living writing short stories for a variety of periodicals. She created spirited heroines who

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