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Student Exhibit: Rebecca Sophie Clarke

written by Matt Dudley

image of Sophie May House

The Sophie May House was built in 1845 by Cullen Sawtelle. Sophie May, whose real name was Rebecca Clarke, was the author of over 40 books between 1861 and 1903. She wrote the "Little Prudy Series" based on the little town of Norridgewock. She. Sophie May was hearing impaired. She died in 1906. The little Prudy stories have characters that are mischevous and realistic rather than other books about kids at the time. Most books during that time, showed how good little children were supposed to behave. She also wanted to write books for teenagers, so she wrote the "Quinnebasset series."

Rebecca Sophia Clarke was born in Norridgewock, Maine, on February 22, 1833. Rebecca's parents were Asa and Sophia Clarke. Rebecca was the fourth child of six children. She was the third daughter of four girls. Ms. Clarke had wavy black hair and had dark blue eyes. She was considered rather beautiful.

Rebecca was educated at the female academy that is now the Norridgewock History House. She was also tutored at home in Greek and Latin. Ms. Clarke used to write in a journal about attending lectures on astronomy, phrenology, and sermons. When Ms. Clarke wrote in her journal about those lectures she wrote everything that she learned.

When the year 1851 came, Rebecca moved to Evansville, Indiana, and became a school teacher. Rebecca was eighteen when she became a school teacher. When Rebecca got to the age of twenty-eight she quit teaching because she was slowly becoming deaf. After Ms. Clarke quit teaching she moved back to her hometown of Norridgewock, Maine. When she moved back, she lived with her sister Sarah in the family home.

After Rebecca Sophia Clarke moved back to the family home, she started to write little stories for her own amusement. She had always loved to write, and now she had more time to concentrate on writing. Rebecca never intended on making writing her career, but with such talent, it turned out that way. In 1861, Ms. Clarke was invited by a friend who was also an editor at the newspaper, to contribute a story. The newspaper was called Memphis Daily Appeal !!!

When Rebecca Sophia Clarke finished writing her first story, she signed in the back, Sophie May. She did this because Sophie was a version of her middle name and she signed 'May' because she thought to herself 'Sophie may write another book and Sophie may not write another book.' That is how she got her nickname Sophie May.

The first book that Sophie May had written was Little Prudy. She published Little Prudy when she saw the magazine called 'The Little Pilgrim.' It was a magazine story and had wonderful illustrations that told great parts of her stories.

Matt Dudley is a seventh grader at Skowhegan Area Middle School.

 


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