A hundred years ago, Margaret Deland was a top American author on par with Mark Twain, William Dean Howells, or Thomas Hardy. She rubbed elbows with presidents and became a prominent member of Boston Society. But she is also a study in contradictions and almost unknown today.
This Civil War era orphan raised by old school Presbyterians became an independent, self-made woman during Victorian times. She captures the struggles of nineteenth century women in her novels; she took unwed mothers into her home but declined to join the suffragette movement. Her literary success did not deter her from assisting soldiers in Europe during World War I or mingling with persons of very diverse backgrounds and faiths.
But beneath an interesting life and career is a deep study and questioning of beliefs. A quest for objective confirmation of an afterlife—especially after the death of her beloved husband Lorin—led her into contact with mediums, psychical research and spiritualism. This in-depth and very personal biography reveals how relevant Margaret’s life, work, and ultimate insights are to our own.