New England Puritans & Pilgrims
Mary Rowlandson (c. 1637-1701), a housewife in Lancaster, Massachusetts, became one of North America's first female authors after her harrowing experience in Native American captivity during Metacom's War in 1675-76. Not much is known about her life until 10 February 1675, when Indians attacked Lancaster in a surprise offensive. They took Mary, her three children, and twenty other people captive for 83 days, during which time she was forced to travel some 150 miles on foot along with her captors. An Indian gave her a stolen copy of the Bible, which she later identified as her only solace during the ordeal. Mary was finally released on twenty pounds ransom near Mt. Wachusett on 2 May 1675. Her two surviving children were later released as well.
At some point in the next seven years, Mary wrote her renowned narrative. It was one of the first and finest written North American captivity narratives and became an instant hit among readers after its publication in 1682. Mary described the places she traveled and the people who held her prisoner in vivid detail. The short yet exhilarating narrative went through over 30 editions in the ensuing centuries and is often assigned in classrooms today.