Annie Fields on the piazza of her house in Manchester-by-the Sea.


Courtesy National Park Service, Longfellow National Historic Site LONG 4686.

Born in Boston into the famous Adams family, Annie Adams married the 37-year-old James Fields in 1854. Her husband's rise to a partnership in the publishing firm of Ticknor & Fields and to the editorship of The Atlantic put the couple at the center of the Boston literary elite and launched Annie's career as a hostess to writers both local and international, a life she continued with zeal after her husband's death in 1881, when she began to share her artifact-filled house with her new partner, the Maine writer Sarah Orne Jewett.

The Fields's townhouse at 148 Charles Street and her summer retreat in Manchester-by-the-Sea, known as "Thunderbolt Hill," became legendary. The photograph shows her mending a piece of cloth on the piazza of her Manchester house, where Longfellow used to visit her. Fields, a social activist and a learned, prolific poet, wrote one of the earliest and best essays on Longfellow (published in her book, Authors and Friends, 1896).