Helen Hunt Jackson

Photographic Print of Helen Hunt Jackson

Dublin Core


Helen Hunt Jackson


Atlantic Monthly


Hunt addresses Charlotte Cushman as "Regina" or her "Queen" in the letters she writes between 1869 and Cushman's death. Cushman repeatedly tells Hunt that she loves her and admires her for her literary work.
Hunt is known as "HH" to the public and starts publishing her works with Fields & Osgood.
Cushman writes Helen confidential letters about the breach of trust between Charlotte and Emma Crow Cushman and the sudden hostility of Grace Greenwood towards Cushman as well as Hunt.
Due to Hunt's relationship with Higginson, Cushman and Hunt's relationship suffers at times since Cushman opposes Hunt's dependency on Higginson. However, Col. Higginson also helps Cushman find a house in Newport in 1870.
When Hunt meets her later husband Jackson, Cushman and Hunt get along better again. Hunt writes for the Atlantic Monthly and Scribner's Monthly among others.

After Cushman's death, Emma Stebbins writes to Sidney Lanier (March 1, 1876) that Hunt has written her and offered to write Charlotte Cushman's biography. Stebbins rejects the offer, partially because Cushman had hoped for Lanier as the author of her memoirs, and partially also because "there is something which is not the ring of the true metal" about Hunt.



Person Item Type Metadata

Birth Date



Amherst, Massachusetts

Death Date






Secondary Texts: Comments

Helen Hunt Jackson's biographer Kate Phillips characterizes Cushman's and Hunt's relationship as a 'romantic friendship' according to Faderman: "In the winter of 1868-69, Jackson did not return to Newport but instead went to Europe, where she traveled for more than a year. […] She wrote more specifically, and less hopefully, about her relationship with Higginson in her correspondence with Charlotte Cushman, a woman then living in Europe who became her close friend sometime during this same trip. When the two women met, Charlotte Cushman was America's most famous living actress. At a time when English men were earning the widest reputations in acting, Cushman had risen from a poverty-stricken Boston childhood to become a cosmopolitan, international superstar; as early as 1852, when she was only thirty-six, she had amassed a fortune large enough to support herself, her mother, and her siblings in perpetuity, and had gone into semiretirement. […] Cushman firmly believed that women artists must maintain control over their own destinies. She took it on herself to serve as Jackson's professional advisor, expressing strong opposition to the younger woman's feelings for Higginson and to what  she considered Jackson's excessive literary dependency." (103)

Cushman was seen as influential and in close contact w/ James Fields and Charlotte encouraged Hunt to show independence as a working woman: "When, after her return form Europe, Jackson asked both Higginson and Cushman to help her reconcile some difficulties she was having with James T. Fields over the publication of her Verses (1870), Cushman urged her to handle the matter herself." (Phillips 105)

Hunt's (open) secret identity as Saxe Holm: "'Sax' as an abbreviation for 'Saxon,' a person of English descent, and 'holm' as an English word meaning an island in a river. Jackson's reasons for selecting this particular pseudonym are not known, but her reasons for wishing to publish her short fiction under a separate, unrecognizable name are fairly clear. Initially, she was eager to distance herself from the autobiographical material in her stories; later, a variety of circumstances, including her own growing doubts over the quality of her stories, led her to continue trying to mask her authorship. So determined was she in her effort that she even refused to admit her identity as Saxe Holm to many publishers and friends, including Sarah Woolsey. Her first three tales, all about forbidden love and all partly autobiographical, were written when she was still living in the same boardinghouse as Thomas Wentworth Higginson and his wife. […] she confessed her secret to Charlotte Cushman" (Phillips 194)

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“Helen Hunt Jackson,” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed April 22, 2024, https://www.archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/46.

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