Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright

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Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright
An eye-opening biography of a woman whose life intersected with three distinct cultures in eighteenth-century America: colonial New England, French Canadian, and Native American

"Esther Wheelwright's journey--from Puritan girl, to Wabanaki captive, to mother superior of the largest Catholic convent in French Canada--is one of the most fascinating personal stories in the annals of what we call 'colonial history.' Deeply researched, and wonderfully contextualized . . . [this book] opens a wide window on three major cultural venues, whose interplay defined and shaped a whole era."--John Demos, author of The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America

Born and raised in a New England garrison town, Esther Wheelwright (1696-1780) was captured by Wabanaki Indians at age seven. Among them, she became a Catholic and lived like any other young girl in the tribe. At age twelve, she was enrolled at a French-Canadian Ursuline convent, where she would spend the rest of her life, eventually becoming the order's only foreign-born mother superior. Among these three major cultures of colonial North America, Wheelwright's life was exceptional: border-crossing, multilingual, and multicultural. This meticulously researched book discovers her life through the communities of girls and women around her: the free and enslaved women who raised her in Wells, Maine; the Wabanaki women who cared for her, catechized her, and taught her to work as an Indian girl; the French-Canadian and Native girls who were her classmates in the Ursuline school; and the Ursuline nuns who led her to a religious life.

Publication Date: 
March 20, 2018