Elizabeth De Wolfe is an historian and award-winning author whose work explores ordinary women in extraordinary situations. Her book on the short life and sad death of the New England factory girl Berengera Caswell, The Murder of Mary Bean and Other Stories (Kent State University Press, 2007), received Book of the Year awards from the New England Historical Association and the Northeast Popular Culture Association and won awards in the category of True Crime in both the Independent Publisher Book Awards and from ForeWord Magazine.
Her study of the nineteenth-century anti-Shaker activist Mary Marshall Dyer, Shaking the Faith (Palgrave, 2002), received the 2003 Outstanding Book Award from the Communal Studies Association. Additional books include Domestic Broils: Shakers, Antebellum Marriage and the Narratives of Mary and Joseph Dyer (University of Massachusetts Press, 2010) and Such News of the Land: U.S. Women Nature Writers (University Press of New England, 2001).
De Wolfe’s current project, supported by grants from the University of New England and the Kentucky Historical Society, explores an 1890s Breach of Promise suit involving a U.S. congressman, his mistress of ten years, and a girl spy from Maine. Based on letters and documents housed in archives in Washington, D.C., Boston, Kentucky, and England, the book follows the intertwined lives of two young women—one from Kentucky and one from Maine—who both wanted more than a rural life of married domesticity. Intersecting in a national scandal that captivated public attention and generated endless commentary, these young women learn hard lessons about the opportunities and challenges of their quest for lives of independence and respect as the century turned.
De Wolfe is professor of history at the University of New England (Biddeford, Maine). She earned her BA at Colgate University, an MA at the State University of New York at Albany and her PhD in American and New England Studies from Boston University. She joined the UNE faculty in 1996 and teaches courses in American women’s history and American culture. De Wolfe lives in southern Maine with her husband Scott, a rare book and ephemera dealer.