Kindergarten Teacher Sara Ware Bassett Was Also a Prolific Writer of Novels for Young Adults

SWBassett[1][1]Talented teachers often earn acclaim in fields other than education. One such chalkboard champion was Sara Ware Bassett, a kindergarten teacher who worked in the public schools of Newton, Massachusetts. Her career as a teacher spanned twenty years, but during these years, she was also a prolific author of books for young adults.

Sarah was born in 1872 and educated in Newton. Her family spent their summer vacations on Cape Cod. After her high school graduation, she attended the Lowell Institute of Design at MIT where she majored in textile design. She then studied writing at Radcliffe and Boston University. In her later years, she divided her time between homes in Princeton and Cape Cod.

She began her career as an author writing a series of non-fiction books for young adults. The series was entitled The Story of Lumber, The Story of Wool, etc., but it was through fiction that her talent was really evident.  Many of her novels focus on love stories and humorously eccentric characters. She wrote over forty novels for young people, most with Cape Cod as the setting. Some of these titles were Within the Harbor, Hidden Shoals, and Flood Tides. The novels usually took place in the town of Belleport, a locale which she created that seemed so real to her hundreds of readers that they could not believe it did not really exist. Many readers made pilgrimages up and down the Cape looking for it! Two of her novels were even made into movies. Her very first novel, The Taming of Zenah Henry, became the movie Captain Hurricane when it was released by RKO. The Harbor Road filmed by Universal became Danger Ahead.

During her lifetime, Sarah cut an unusual figure around town, resembling a character in an English detective novel. She dressed as one would expect Agatha Christie’s character Miss Marple would have dressed, sporting tweed skirts, a man’s shirt, and sensible walking shoes. She was often seen around Princeton as she conducted her daily errands at the post office or the general store.

When she passed away in 1968 at the age of 95, she left a legacy of over 500 books of her own writings and those of her contemporaries to the Boston Public Library. The collection is now part of their Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection.