Jennnie M. Drinkwater Conklin

Jennnie M Drinkwater Conklin Portait The Writer Vol 5 Issue 8 Webvers

Jennie M. Drinkwater Conklin (April 14, 1841 – April 28, 1900) was a writer born in Portland, Maine.

Her works primarily focused on writing stories for children and religious publications. As such her writing style was often described as “Sunday School Juvenille”.

She is often credited with starting The Shut-In Society in 1877, an organization meant to bring hope and comfort to those home-ridden due to illness, disability, or other circumstances.

Jennnie M Drinkwater Conklin Portait The Writer Vol 5 Issue 8 Webvers

Family and Personal Life

Jennie Maria Drinkwater married her husband Reverand Nathaniel Conklin, on March 17, 1880. He served as the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of New Vernon, New Jersey.

While married to Rev. Nathaniel Conklin, her works often appeared under the pen name, “Mrs. Nathaniel Conklin”.


Writing Career

Drinkwater-Conklin began writing at a very young age.

Having had from her earliest reading an absorbing interest in biography, one of her first inspirations in bookmaking (she prefers to speak of it as ” book-growing) was the thought of biography–to write lives of people as she found them, using their weaknesses, hardships, evil or noble conduct to point truth to others. For this reason, Miss Drinkwater’s stories always possess a wholesome moral, and at the same time an absorbing interest. (4)

“Mrs. Jennie M. Drinkwater Conklin”, Book News Monthly, Volume XIV, Philadelphia, July, 1896, Number 167.

Notable Works by Jennie M. Drinkwater Conklin

  • Tessa Wadsworth’s Discipline
  • Rue’s Helps
  • Bek’s First Corner
  • Miss Prudence
  • Dorothy’s Islands
  • Isabel’s Between Times
  • Rizpah’s Heritage
  • From Flax to Linen
  • Electa
  • Wildwood
  • The Fairfax Girls
  • David Strong’s Errand
  • The Story of Hannah Marigold
  • Dolly French’s Household

The Shut-In Society

Jennie M. Drinkwater Conklin is often credited with starting The Shut-In Society (Now known as The Vermont Sunshine Society) in 1877, following her own experiences being shut-in and isolated from the happenings of the outside world while facing her own disability.

The Shut-In Society was formed as an “organization of invalids for correspondence” and as a means for women and girls who may otherwise be home-bound due to illness, disability, or other circumstances to find comfort and connect with others. (4.) They published a monthly magazine, called The Open Window.


End of Life

Drinkwater-Conklin died on April 28, 1900 and was buried on May 1, 1900 at the Madison New Jersey Cemetary (2), with the cause of death listed as Bright’s Disease, which was often used at the time as a diagnosis for a wide variety of symptoms related to kidney failure. (3)


Resources, References, and Further Reading

  1. “For the Ladies Only: The Little Pumpkin Vine-The Golden Fruit it Bore-How It Cheered Weary Toilers-The Shut Ins-Other Items.”, The Lewiston Evening Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Saturday Aug 9, 1884, p. 6.
  2. Presbyterian Historical Society; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; U.s., Presbyterian Church Records, 1701-1907; Book Title: Session/Register_baptisms, Births, Marriages, Deaths_1893-1933; Accession Number: Vault Bx 9211 .n57976 F51 V.2
  3. “Bright’s Disease.” In Wikipedia, April 26, 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bright%27s_disease&oldid=1084715541.
  4. “Mrs. Jennie M. Drinkwater Conklin”, Book News Monthly, Volume XIV, Philadelphia, July, 1896, Number 167.