Wood, Sally (1759 - 1855)

Genre: General Fiction

Sally (Sarah) Wood is considered Maine's first woman novelist and America's first gothic novelist.

She was born in York on 1 Oct. 1759. Until she was 19, she, her parents and her siblings lived with her grandfather, Judge Jonathan Sayward, one of the most affluent men in Maine. At 19, she married Richard Keating, a law clerk in her grandfather's office. When he died five years later (1783), she had two young daughters and was pregnant with a third child, a son.

Wood's first novel was published in 1800. It was a melodrama set in France and focused on the activities of the Free Society of the Illuminati.

She published her second novel in 1801. A fictional account of the real 1796 Yazoo land frauds, it tells the story of the schemer Dorval's role in the Georgia land speculation that involved bribes to state legislators.

In 1804, Mrs. Keating married her second husband, General Abiel Wood, and moved to Wiscasset.

After he died in 1811, Sally, now Madame Wood, went to live in Portland.

Wood, desiring anonymity, wrote and published under pseudonyms. On the title pages of her first four books, she was identified as either "A Lady" or "A Lady from Massachusetts." Since her last book was published after Maine became a state in 1820, she was identified as "A Lady from Maine" on its title page.

Sally Sayward Barrell Keating Wood died on 6 January 1855.


  • Julia and the Illuminated Baron, A Novel: Founded on Recent Facts, Which Have Transpired in the Course of the Late Revolution of Moral Principles in France (1800)
  • Dorval: or, The Speculator: a Novel, Founded on Recent Facts (1801)
  • Amelia, or The Influence of Virtue: An Old Man's Story (1802)
  • Ferdinand and Elmira: A Russian Story (1804)
  • Tales of the Night (1827)

Selected Resources

Selected Resources