Wilson, Dorothy (1904 - 2003)

Genre: Drama/Theatre/Film, General Fiction, Non-Fiction

Dorothy Clarke Wilson was born in Gardiner on 9 May 1904. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Bates College in 1925, she married fellow student Elwin L. Wilson in August of that year. After his seminary training at Princeton Theological Seminary and Boston University School of Theology, Dorothy and Elwin returned to the state of Maine where he served Methodist churches and the Maine Methodist Conference as a District Superintendent. The Wilson Center at the University of Maine, which Rev. Elwin served from 1950-1955 (then called the Maine Christian Association) was named in honor of the Wilsons.

In 1928, Wilson began her writing life when she sold a play she had written for the church she and Elwin were serving in Scarborough.

Many of her books had Biblical themes or were focused on the lives of missionaries. He best known book, Prince of Egypt (1949), won the Westminster prize for the best religious book of the year and was also one of the sources for the film The Ten Commandments. Despite the Academy Award it won, Wilson did not like the film and has been reported to have used the word 'flimflammery' to describe the scene in which Moses parted the Red Sea. She is also well known for her biographies about women such as Dorothea Dix and Elizabeth Blackwell as well as First Ladies Dolly Madison and Martha Washington.

Among the many honors Wilson received were honorary degrees of Doctor of Letters from Bates in 1948 and the University of Maine in 1984. The University also honored her with its 1988 Maryann Hartman Award.

Westbrook College presented her with its 1989 Deborah Morton Award.

Her work for peace and justice was recognized when she received the New England United Methodist Award for Excellence in Social Justice Ministry in 1975.

In 1988 the American Association of University Women also honored her for her justice work.

A large collection of her manuscripts, papers, letters, etc., is available at the Fogler Library at the University of Maine. Both Orono High School and the University of Maine offer the Dorothy Clarke Wilson Peace Awards.

Wilson died on 26 March 2003.

Selected Bibliography

  • Twelve Months of Drama for the Average Church (1933)
  • The Herdsman (1946)
  • Prince of Egypt (1949)
  • House of Earth (1952)
  • Fly with Me to India (1954)
  • That Heaven of Freedom: A One-Act Play of India (1954)
  • Jezebel (1955)
  • The Gifts: The Story of the Boyhood of Jesus (1957)
  • Dr. Ida: The Story of Dr. Ida Scudder of Vellore [India] (1959)
  • The Journey (1962)
  • Take My Hands: The Remarkable Story of Dr. May Verghese (1963)
  • The Tree Gifts (1963)
  • Ten Fingers for God (1966)
  • Handicap Race: The Inspiring Story of Roger Arnett (1967)
  • Palace of Healing: The Story of Dr. Clara Swain, first woman missionary doctor, and the hospital she founded (1968)
  • Lone Woman: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor (1970)
  • The Big-Little World of Doc Pritham, a Greenville doctor (1971)
  • Hilary: The Brave World of Hilary Pole (1972)
  • Bright Eyes: The Story of Susette La Flesche, an Omaha Indian (1974)
  • Stranger & Traveler: The Story of Dorothea Dix, American Reformer (1975)
  • Granny Brand: Her Story (1976)
  • Twelve Who Cared: My Aventures with Christian Courage (1977)
  • Apostle of Sight (1980)
  • Lincoln's Mothers (1981)
  • Lady Washington (1984)
  • The Brother (1984)
  • Queen Dolley: The Life and Times of Dolley Madison (1987)
  • Alice and Edith: The Two Wives of Teddy Roosevelt (1989)
  • Leaves in the Wind: A Lifetime in Verse (1995)
  • Live for Hundred Years: A History of the Maine Christian Association (1996)
  • Union in Diversity (1999, 2nd ed., memoirs)

Selected Resources