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Mary Rowlandson, née White, was born in Somerset, England and emigrated as a child with her family to the American colonies before 1650. They settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, first in Salem and then in 1653, moved to the frontier village of Lancaster. In 1656, she married Joseph Rowlandson, who became a Puritan minister; the couple had four children before 1669. On February 10, 1675, during King Philip's War, the settlement was attacked by native Americans, who killed 13 people and took at least 24 captive, including Mary Rowlandson and her three children, Joseph, Mary, and Sarah. Sarah, the youngest, age 6, died a week later. Mary and her surviving children were forced to accompany their captors on a grueling journey, suffering great hardships, through the wilderness for nearly three months. They were finally ransomed in May 1676. After her first husband died, Mary moved to Boston, where she is believed to have written her memoir, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: The Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, published in 1682 in Cambridge, Massachusetts and in London. The book quickly became a bestseller -- perhaps the first in American history -- and selections from it have been included in countless anthologies of American literature. It also served as a source of information for 18th and 19th-century writers such as James Fenimore Cooper.
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