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Women Writers of Lincoln County
On view through September 2023
Lincoln County Historical Association | Wiscasset Old Jail
Wiscasset, Maine

A large, oval-framed Daguerreotype presided over a dusty upper shelf in the granite-walled Collections Storage rooms of the Old Jail Museum, as it had for well over 50 years. In the picture, a strikingly elaborate white widow’s bonnet sets off a mature woman’s intelligent, clear-eyed face that betrays just a hint of amusement. But no one remembered why the portrait was there, and no record was found of her name or the donor.

But the portrait inspired the theme of the Lincoln County Historical Association (LCHA)’s Summer 2022 exhibition, “Women Writers of Lincoln County,” for she proved to be none other than Madame Wood (more specifically, Sally Sayward Barrell Keating Wood, 1759-1855), Maine’s first woman fiction writer and, at the time of building the Old Jail itself (1809-1811), Wiscasset’s leading lady. Her husband, General Abiel Wood, was closely involved in the design, siting, and construction of the then-new Jail until his death in 1811.

Last summer’s exhibition — further featuring 30 other Lincoln County women writers — was so warmly received it has been held over for a second season and expanded for 2023 to include additional writers, events, and speakers to tackle the expansive influence of small publishers, the Internet, and self-publishing options on contemporary writing of all genres.

[Image courtesy Lincoln County Historical Association]