This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for October 15, 2017: Course of Treatment

October 15, 2017: birthday: Helen Hunt Jackson

It’s the birthday of Helen Hunt Jackson (books by this author), born in Amherst, Massachusetts (1830), where she went to school with Emily Dickinson. She had a steady career as a ladies’ author, but when she heard Chief Standing Bear of the Poncas give a speech about the destruction of his people, she became an activist overnight. She wrote a novel called Ramona (1884) about a mixed-race Spanish woman and her Native American lover, based on stories told to her by Mission Indians she had interviewed. It was a great success, but not in the way Jackson intended. People who read the book didn’t care much about the Indian characters; they were attracted to the rich Spaniards, and they eagerly attached Ramona’s name to the boulevards and opera houses in their new communities. California is still full of things named “Ramona.”