Trials of the Earth: The True Story of a Pioneer Woman

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The astonishing first-person account of Mississippi pioneer woman struggling to survive, protect her family and make a home in the early American South

Near the end of her life, Mary Mann Hamilton (1866 - c.1936) began recording her experiences in the backwoods of the Mississippi Delta. The result is this astonishing first-person account of a pioneer woman who braved grueling work, profound tragedy, and a pitiless wilderness (she and her family faced floods, tornadoes, fires, bears, panthers, and snakes) to protect her home in the early American South.

An early draft of Trials of the Earth was submitted to a writers' competition sponsored by Little, Brown in 1933. It didn't win, and we almost lost the chance to bring this raw, vivid narrative to readers. Eighty-three years later, in partnership with Mary Mann Hamilton's descendants, we're proud to share this irreplaceable piece of American history. Written in spare, rich prose, Trials of the Earth is a precious record of one woman's extraordinary endurance and courage that will resonate with readers of history and fiction alike.

3 comments on “Trials of the Earth: The True Story of a Pioneer Woman”

  1. Grit and Struggle and Triumph Pioneer Lit has long been a favorite of mine (including recently reading A Lantern in Her Hand and Giants in the Earth). Trials of the Earth is a bit different because it is actually an autobiography even though it reads much like a novel. Mary Mann Hamilton was one of the first pioneers to settle in the Mississippi Delta and wrote down the events of her life after decades of surviving hardship and adversity. Her memoirs remained unpublished until the 1990s, but are now collected into this...

  2. Repeats itself a lot I had really wanted to like this book. An overwhelming percentage of reviews were 'raves', and I downloaded this book based on those reviews. Well, I became bored after reading only 15 or 20 % of it. I found it to be so repititious and filled with minutia about nearly every meal cooked, every conversation with a small child, every time a move was made ( and there were too many to count ). I am sure the woman and her family had hard times, but I don't know if her particular hard times were...

  3. courage and deep love for her family was unlike what we see today This story was absolutely riveting. I appreciate my life so much more now with modern conveniences, modern transportation systems and proper health care. Her respect, courage and deep love for her family was unlike what we see today. She wrote using the vernacular from the south that was not edited and it brought to a consciousness the life of the people who lived outside the prison camps including how the Black man was treated. I couldn't put this book down!

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