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People/Characters: Mary Stace Willis

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Harriet Jacobs: A Life by Jean Fagan Yellin

Character description

Mary Stace Willis was the English first wife of popular American writer Nathaniel Parker Willis. Although Harriet Jacobs had no references, Mary Willis liked her enough to hire her on a trial basis to care for her infant daughter, Imogene, which soon turned into a permanent position. It began a relationship that would last to the end of Harriet's life.

Mindful of the damaged that Harriet's legs had suffered during her long period of hiding in the attic, Mary summoned a doctor for her, and tried to arrange things to reduce the amount of walking that she had to do. She also offered to have Louisa Jacobs live with them, but Harriet was afraid of the reaction of her "owners," the Tredwells. When Norcom came looking for Harriet, Mary found a lawyer and helped her and Louisa hide.

Mary Stace Willis died in childbirth March 25, 1845, along with her newborn daughter Blanche. Willis wrote in his notebook that she was "an angel without fault or foible".

Mary Stace Willis in Wikipedia


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