Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Dorothy Canfield Fisher (née Dorothea Frances CanfieldFebruary 17, 1879 – November 9, 1958) was an American writer and social activist, named by Eleanor Roosevelt one of the ten most influential women in the United States.

She received a B.A. from Ohio State University, and earned a PhD in Romance languages from Columbia University. Later, she received honorary degrees from Dartmouth College, the University of Nebraska, and the University of Vermont. Canfield Fischer brought the Montessori method of child-rearing to the United States, presided over the country’s first adult education program, and served as a member of the Book of the Month Club selection committee from 1925 to 1951. During World War I, she established a Braille press for blinded veterans in Paris, as well as a convalescent home for refugee French children. She corresponded with Willa Cather, Isak Dinesen, and Robert Frost, among others.

c. 1930, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, portrait



  • Gunhild (1907)
  • The Squirrel-Cage (1912)
  • The Bent Twig (1915)
  • The Real Motive (1916).
  • Fellow Captains (1916, written with Sarah N. Cleghorn)
  • Understood Betsy (1917)
  • Home Fires in France (1918)
  • The Day of Glory (1919)
  • The Brimming Cup (1919)
  • Rough-Hewn (1922)
  • The Home-Maker (1924)
  • Her Son’s Wife (1926)
  • The Deepening Stream (1930)
  • Bonfire (1933)
  • Seasoned Timber (1939)

Short story collections

  • Hillsboro People (1915)
  • The Real Motive (1916)
  • Raw Material (1923)
  • Made-to-Order Stories (1925)
  • Four Square (1949)
  • The Bedquilt and Other Stories (1997)


  • Corneille and Racine in England (1904, her PhD dissertation)
  • English Rhetoric and Composition (1906, written with with G. R. Carpenter)
  • What Shall We Do Now? (1906)
  • A Montessori Mother (1912)
  • A Montessori Manual (1913)
  • Mothers and Children (1914)
  • Self-Reliance (1916)
  • Why Stop Learning? (1927)
  • Tourists Accommodated (1932)
  • Nothing Ever Happens and How It Does (1940, written with with Sarah N. Cleghorn)
  • Tell Me a Story (1940)
  • “Hiker’s Philosophy” chapter of Footpath in the Wilderness (1941)
  • Our Young Folks (1943)
  • American Portraits (1946)
  • Paul Revere and the Minute Men (1950)
  • Our Independence and the Constitution (1950)
  • A Fair World for All (1952)
  • Vermont Tradition (1953)
  • Memories of Arlington, Vermont (1957)
  • And Long Remember (1959, posthumous)

Books about her

  • The Lady from Vermont: Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s Life and World, by Elizabeth Yates (1971, originally published in 1958 as Pebble in a Pool)
  • Dorothy Canfield Fisher – A Biography, by Ida H. Washington (1982)


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