On the eve of her twenty-second birthday in 1882, American author Charlotte Perkins Gilman visited Maine for the ﬁrst time. She was immediately captivated by the rugged beauty of the Ogunquit shoreline, the therapeutic quality of the fresh air, and the primitive power of the roaring sea. Over the next forty-three years, Gilman would return to Maine on several occasions. While her early visits provided Gilman the freedom to contemplate her thorny emotional entanglement with her ﬁancee, Charles Walter Stetson, whom she would marry in 1884, her connection to the Pine Tree State was complex. Maine represented not only the autonomy she craved, but, conversely, it also became a symbol of domestic oppression when she accepted a position as a governess and spent ten weeks in the Maine wilderness. Away from the majestic allure of the open sea, Gilman was afforded a preview of what marriage and motherhood might portend if she surrendered her independence. When we look retrospectively at Gilman’s life, it becomes clear that Maine played a signiﬁcant role both biographically and therapeutically. Denise D.Knight is a Distinguished Teaching Professor of English at the State University of New York at Cortland, where she has taught since 1990.She is the author of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A Study of the Short Fiction (Twayne, 1997), the editor of The Diaries of Charlotte Perkins Gilman (University Press of Virginia, 1994), and co-editor with Jennifer S. Tuttle of The Selected Letters of Charlotte Perkins Gilman (University of Alabama Press, 1980). She has also edited volumes of Gilman’s poetry and ﬁction. In 2004, Knight earned both a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.
Knight, Denise D.. "Charlotte Perkins Gilman in Maine." Maine History 43, 4 (2008): 364-382. https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/mainehistoryjournal/vol43/iss4/2