Mary E. Wilkins Freeman (1852–1930) was one of the most popular American writers at the turn of the twentieth century, and her annual Christmas stories appeared in magazines and periodicals across the globe. Since then, the extraordinary stories that once delighted her legions of fans every festive season have gone largely out of print and unread. Now, for the first time, The Last Gift presents a collection of Freeman’s best Christmas writing, introducing these funny, poignant, provocative, and surprisingly timely holiday tales to a new generation of readers.
And here's some advance praise from some wonderful Freeman experts!
“Celebrated in her own time not only as a New England regionalist but also as writer of popular Christmas stories, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman challenged the genre's sentimental limits by questioning the relationships between charity and obligation, theft and gift, and transgression and redemption which her characters experience at Christmas. As Thomas Ruys Smith argues in his excellent, lively, and comprehensive introduction to these twenty-five stories, some published for the first time since their original appearance, Freeman's unjustly neglected Christmas stories reveal a new understanding both of the genre's significance and of Freeman's career as a professional writer.”—Donna Campbell, author of Bitter Tastes: Literary Naturalism and Early Cinema in American Women’s Writing.
“Finally, a volume that reprints Freeman’s Christmas fare. Freeman’s Christmas stories are inventive and experimental, emphasizing the emotional and practical complexities of the holiday, with profound implications for gendered labour, class inequality, the building of community, and the pleasures and perils of consumption. The impressive introduction frames the stories within the history of the holiday and Freeman’s delight in its intrigue.”—Stephanie Palmer, co-editor of New Perspectives on Mary E. Wilkins Freeman: Reading with and against the Grain