Dorothy Clarke Wilson Collection, 1926-1989

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Volume: 5 linear feet

Organization/Arrangement: Organized into two series:
I. Manuscripts, Scrapbooks and Articles
II. Objects from India

Biographical Note: Dorothy Clarke Wilson was born on May 9, 1904, in Gardiner, daughter of Rev. Lewis H. and Flora Cross Clarke. Valedictorian of her graduating class at Cony High School in Augusta, Wilson entered Bates College at the age of 17, and there had two life-changing experiences. One was meeting her future husband, Elwin Wilson, a fellow student. The other was winning an essay contest her senior year with her piece "Arbitration Instead of War," which focused her outlook on social issues and sparked her lifelong interest in peace activism. Wilson was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Bates in 1925 and married Elwin Wilson a few weeks later, on August 31st. The couple lived for a year in Princeton, New Jersey.

Wilson's professional writing career began in 1928, when a play she had written for her husband's parish was accepted for publication. She was a prolific author who published 25 books and scores of essays, stories, poems, and plays, with a special focus on biographies and religious novels and plays. Her books have appealed to generations of American and international readers. Prince of Egypt (1949), perhaps her best-known work, sold more than 500,000 copies in paperback. It won the Westminster prize of $7,500.00 as the best religious novel of its year, and was a primary source for the film The Ten Commandments, directed by Cecil B. DeMille. Also well-known are her biographies of important women, including Dorothea Dix, Elizabeth Blackwell, Alice and Edith Roosevelt, Dolly Madison, and Martha Washington. Mrs. Wilson wrote about missionaries and lepers, doctors and reformers, and people with disabilities. One of her best-loved books, The Big-Little World of Doc Pritham, is about life in rural Maine. Her novels and plays have been translated and reprinted into Chinese, German, Arabic, Indonesian, Dutch, French, Danish, Thai, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, and Malayalam. Some of her works have been condensed by the Readers Digest and Guideposts, which assured them a broad readership.

Wilson was almost as well traveled as her words, visiting Palestine, India, Egypt, Mexico, and England. She presented almost 1200 illustrated lectures about her books. Over her long life she received many honors, including the honorary degrees of Doctor of Letters from Bates College in 1947, and from the University of Maine in 1984. She received the Maryann Hartman Award from the University of Maine in 1988; the Deborah Morton Award from Westbrook College in Portland in 1989; the New England United Methodist Award for Excellence in Social Justice Ministry in 1975; the Woman of Distinction Award of Alpha Delta Kappa in 1971; the Award for Distinguished Achievement from the University of Maine at Augusta in 1977; and the Achievement Award from the American Association of University Women, Maine Division, as outstanding author, champion of individual freedom and tireless worker for social justice and positive societal change in 1988.

Wilson died in Orono on March 26th, 2003, at the age of 98. She was predeceased by her husband of 66 years, Rev. Elwin L. Wilson, on March 31, 1992. She was also predeceased by her son, Harold on December 29, 1977.

Because of her abiding interest in peace, both in her community and in the greater world, Orono High School and University of Maine students are now awarded Dorothy Clarke Wilson Peace Award.

Description: This collection consists of two series. Series 1 contains articles about and interviews with Wilson, typescripts of some of the author's writings and one of her poems, her autobiography (74 pages), and copies of her writings published in pamphlets and periodicals. In addition there is a large collection of personal scrapbooks documenting her published works from 1933 to 1949, as well as a scrapbook chronicling a trip to India in 1950. Series 2 consists of a number of decorative objects and textiles that Wilson brought back from her travels to India, including pieces in brass, wood, silver, and silk.

Access Restrictions: None

Please cite as: Dorothy Clarke Wilson Collection, Maine Women Writers Collection, University of New England, Portland, Maine

Container List:

I.  Manuscripts and Articles

001.  Manuscript "Autobiographical Sketch", undated
002.  Articles, interviews (photocopies), 1950-1990s
003.  Articles announcing Wilson's wedding, undated
004.  Newspaper articles re: Wilson, 1950-1980s
005.  Maine Writers' Conference, 1960
006.  Publishing promotional material, undated
007.  Deborah Morton Award speech, 1989
008.  "A Sentimental Journey to a Satisfying Faith" by Elwin L. Wilson, undated
009.  Elwin Wilson's obituary and memorial service, 1992
010.  Essay, high school valedictorian (photocopy), 1921
011.  Manuscript poem "Growth", 1926
012.  Early poetry (photocopies), undated
013.  Poem "Heaven”, 1980
014.  Short story "Maker of the Cross", 1935
015.  Early short stories (photocopy), undated
016.  Plays "Pilgrims of the Dawn" and "One Great Fellowship", 1944
017.  Play "Brothers", 1933
018.  Play "White Christmas", 1934
019.  Play "We Call It Freedom", 1942
020.  Play "No East or West", 1945
021.  Pamphlets, undated
022.  Manuscript "Lady Washington" (Folder 1 of 4), undated
023.  Manuscript "Lady Washington" (Folder 2 of 4), undated
024.  Manuscript "Lady Washington" (Folder 3 of 4), undated
025.  Manuscript "Lady Washington" (Folder 4 of 4), undated
026.  Manuscript "Alice and Edith" (Folder 1 of 7), undated
027.  Manuscript "Alice and Edith" (Folder 2 of 7), undated
028.  Manuscript "Alice and Edith" (Folder 3 of 7), undated
029.  Manuscript "Alice and Edith" (Folder 4 of 7), undated
030.  Manuscript "Alice and Edith" (Folder 5 of 7), undated
031.  Manuscript "Alice and Edith" (Folder 6 of 7), undated
032.  Manuscript "Alice and Edith" (Folder 7 of 7), undated
033.  Manuscript "Granny Brand" (Folder 1 of 4), undated
034.  Manuscript "Granny Brand" (Folder 2 of 4), undated
035.  Manuscript "Granny Brand" (Folder 3 of 4), undated
036.  Manuscript "Granny Brand" (Folder 4 of 4), undated
037.  Handwritten letter from Indira Gandhi to DCW, 1951
038.  Scrapbook re: Wilson's plays--reviews clippings, programs, photos, 1929-1961
039.  Scrapbook re: The Brother -- reviews clippings & advertisements, 1944-1946
040.  Scrapbook re: The Herdsman--reviews, ads, correspondence, bestseller lists, 1946-1956
041.  Scrapbook re: Prince of Egypt--reviews, ads, photos, bestseller lists, 1949-1952
042.  Scrapbook re: India trip--column clippings, photos, MS material, correspondence, memorabilia, 1949-1955
043.  Scrapbook re: House of Earth and Fly with Me to India--clippings, ads, correspondence, 1952-1956


II.  Objects from India

001.  Brass flower bowl, undated
002.  3-piece silver tea set from Lucknow, 1956
003.  Small enameled brass plate from Delhi, 1966
004.  Large brass plate from Jaipur, 1950
005.  Aftaba (water or tea pot), undated
006.  Inlaid plaque, Mysore City, 1950
007.  Inlaid wooden trivet, undated
008.  Sliding carved bookends with elephants, 008
009.  Marble plate inlaid with semiprecious stones, from Taj Mahal, 1949
010.  Buffalo horn cranes (2), undated
011.  Buffalo horn animal, undated
012.  Carved ivory figure -- woman with wheat and child, from Madras Victoria Institute, 1964
013.  Carved wood Vishnu bookend, bought at Hindu temple at Madura, south India, 1950
014.  Carved wood Ganesh (elephant god) bookend, bought at Hindu temple in Madura, south India,1950
015.  Bidri vase from Bidar, central India, silver on gun metal, 1966
016.  Bidri pin case, silver on gun metal, from Bidar, central India, 1966
017.  Brass figure, undated
018.  Carved wooden bull, undated
019.  Gandhi plaque, Wardha, 1950
020.  Small wooden elephant, undated
021.  Small marble elephant, undated
022.  Ivory dhobi (washer man), gift of Dr.  Ida B. Scudder, after 1966
023.  Ivory snake charmer, bought in Trivandrum, Kerala, February 1950
024.  Carved wooden elephant bookends, undated
025.  Small sandalwood chest from Mysore, 1950
026.  Brass candy dish, undated
027.  Nirmalware plaque, painting of woman with vessel, from Hyderabed, central India
028.  Brocade silk scarf, red and turquoise, undated
029.  Vibrant blue and yellow silk scarf, undated
030.  Turquoise and silver silk scarf, undated
031.  Gold and orange silk scarf, undated
032.  Bronze and green ornate necklace, undated
033.  Silver ornate necklace, undated
034.  Leather wallet with elephant image, undated
035.  Embroidered pouch, undated
036.  Cream on cream embroidered doily with elephants, undated
037.  Painted wall hanging by Granny Brand, undated
038.  Large brass tray from Jaipur, 1950
039.  Inlaid wooden tray, probably made in Mysore, from Victoria Technical Institute in Madras, 1964
040.  Inlaid wooden table, probably from Mysore, bought at Victoria Technical Institute, Madras, 1964

Related materials: The majority of Dorothy Clarke Wilson's manuscripts are held at the Fogler Library at the University of Maine at Orono. For a full finding aid of the Wilson papers please see: http://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/findingaids/27/