Books

Dorothy Canfield Fisher

I read The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, my first Persephone book for the Persephone Reading Weekend hosted by Verity and Claire.  But what of the author I chose to read?

Dorothy Canfield Fisher was born on 17 February 1879 and died 9 November 1958. She was an educational reformer, social activist, and best-selling American author in the early decades of the twentieth century. The book I read The Home-Maker was published in 1924. Her best known work is Understood Betsy a children’s book about a little orphaned girl this is probably why there is a children’s book award named after her.

Despite being fluent in 5 languages, writing novels and short stories, educational works and criticism of literature. She followed her husband to France in 1916 and helped blinded soldiers and established a convalescent homes for refugee children.  Her son was one of the two fatalities from the raid to free POWs imprisoned in Philippines. She never wrote anything else after her son died.

She brought the Montessori Method of child rearing to America. Now this is an area which I have no knowledge what so ever, that of child rearing although that makes it sound like something that is done on a farm. Searching to find what the best way to explain this method, I eventually found this explanation

The Montessori Method is a way about thinking about who children are. It is a philosophy that respects the unique individuality of each child. Dr. Montessori believed in the worthiness, value and importance of children. Her method does not compare a child  to norms or standards that are measured by traditional educational systems. It is founded on the belief that children should be free to succeed and learn without restriction or criticism.

A lady who achieved very much in her lifetime and has left us a legacy with her books which to me in having just read only the one is relevant today as it was published in 1924.

I am going to finish this post with a quote by Dorothy Canfield Fisher.

If we would only give, just once, the same amount of reflection to what we want to get out of life that we give to the question of what to do with a two weeks’ vacation, we would be startled at our false standards and the aimless procession of our busy days.

How true?

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7 thoughts on “Dorothy Canfield Fisher

  1. I have a couple of other Dorothy Canfield Fisher novels (as well as The Home-Maker) that were both published by Virago but are now out-of-print: Her Son’s Wife and The Brimming Cup, both of which I have heard fabulous things about.

  2. Wow, she sounds amazing. That is quite a big deal to take the Montessori method to America. It is still such a strong organisation today. I have always found it quite fascinating and would have loved to train to teach it.

  3. What an incredible woman! I am in awe of her, especially about the Montessori Method (which I was ignorant of) and the last quote. She seems to have been well ahead of her time. Remarkable. I am definately reading the book you reviewed! Thank you.

  4. I love the Persephone and also Understood Betsy. She was a remarkable woman, and the influence of the Montessori method on even general schooling can I think still be felt today.

  5. She sounds like a fascinating person. My library has this book on order and I am (not so) patiently waiting for it to finally arrive!

  6. Enjoyed your write up about the Home Maker and Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s life. Some of her novels are out of copyright and can be found online at Gutenberg and other sites. I really like the Bent Twig which is a story about a young girl’s coming of age.

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