The Historical Figures in Unsheltered: Background information when reading Unsheltered

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Unsheltered

A Novel

by Barbara Kingsolver

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver X
Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2018, 480 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 15, 2019, 480 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster
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The Historical Figures in Unsheltered

This article relates to Unsheltered

Mary Treat

Mary TreatAlthough the two protagonists of Barbara Kingsolver's Unsheltered are fictional, she includes historical figures in her 19th-century story line. Chief among these is Mary Treat, a rare female scientist who deserves to be better known than she is – I had no idea until I got to the Acknowledgments at the back of the book that Treat was a real person. Born Mary Davis in Trumansburg, New York in September 1830, she was the daughter of a Methodist minister. She grew up there and in Ohio and was educated by turns at a private girls' academy and a public school.

In 1863 she married Dr. Joseph Burrell Treat, a professor and abolitionist. After a time spent in Iowa, the couple moved to Vineland, New Jersey in 1869. It was here that Mary began her scientific research, mostly into plants and insects, and her first article was published in The American Entomologist soon afterwards. She and her husband initially collaborated on her entomological studies, but they ...

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