This undated portrait of Maude Clark Gay is part of the Maine Writers Correspondence collection at the Maine State Library. Submitted photo

WISCASSET — The Lincoln County Historical Association is spotlighting a local writer of love stories, Maude Clark Gay.

Born in Waldoboro in 1876, Gay, nee Mayo, began writing at a young age, contributing stories and poems to newspapers and magazines while still a teenager, according to a news release from the association. Her work as a writer led her to serve as president and contributor to publications by the Maine Writers Research Club, and she also was honored with a writing prize from the Maine Federation of Women’s Clubs for her work in the “Trail of the Maine Pioneer” publication. In addition to her work for those groups, Gay turned out a number of published works.

Since the 1700s, Lincoln County has been a locus of women novelists, authors, poets, and journalists, the association notes. This year the association will celebrate these writers — from Sally Wood, who published her first novel in 1800, to influential nature writer Rachel Carson, to 21st century children’s mystery writer Lea Wait.

Gay’s published novels included love stories like “Paths Crossing” and “The Knitting of the Souls.” Local history and historical themes also cropped up frequently in her writing, often set in historical Lincoln County. The “Knitting of the Souls,” published in 1904, was favorably reviewed by The Club Fellow: The Society Journal of New York and Chicago, Vol. 6 as “a puritan story with a tang.”

Gay later published a series of short stories, “Little Romances of Early Maine,” that combined her local history with love stories. Though her works are not widely available, some copies can be found at a handful of libraries around the state, including Skidompha Public Library in Damariscotta and in the Maine State Library.

In “The Reward: a Tale of the Early Days of Pemaquid,” Gay wrote of a young woman living in Pemaquid who opened the door to a knock, finding a handsome stranger who greeted her by saying, “I was to ask for shelter and food,” he said, “but the sight of such loveliness has made me forget I have not eaten or slept for two days.”

The association plans to share more about Gay and other women writers of Lincoln County throughout the coming year. Programming will be announced in the spring, and information will be available at lincolncountyhistory.org, as well as the Facebook page, Lincoln County Historical Association (Maine).

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