Carter, Isabel (1886 - 1976)

Genre: General Fiction

Born in Woolwich, Isabel Hopestill Carter was the second child of sea captain John Carter and his wife Clarissa (Reed) Carter. Isabel and her brothers and sister spent most of their childhood sailing aboard their father's vessels. In 1896 the family came ashore and purchased a home in Bath.

Isabel graduated from the then Bath High School in 1904 and then went to Wellesley College where she majored in math and Greek. After graduating in 1908, she earned a teaching certificate from Gorham Normal School, one of the precursors to the University of Southern Maine.

With the exception of three years, 1919 to 1921, when she did post-war relief work in Turkey, she was a teacher in both private and public high schools. Most of the time -- 1924 to 1927 and 1938 to 1953 -- she taught math at the Madeira School, McLean, Virginia.

Upon retirement, she and her mother returned to the family summer home in Yarmouth. She died in a Yarmouth nursing home in 1976.

Carter's publishing record -- one novel and six short stories -- belies her important role in understanding Maine's 19th-century maritime history. Although her work is fiction, the state's maritime historians recognize the authenticity of her characters and incidents that are based on her parents' experiences at sea. Carter's primary source for her novel and the six stories published in Atlantic Monthly and Woman's Home Companion between 1926 and 1929 were letters her parents wrote to each other between 1886 and 1896.

Selected Bibliography

  • Shipmates : a tale of the seafaring women of New England

Selected Resources