My ancestor, William Sprague, first came to Salem in 1628 along with Governor Endicott. Sprague’s mission was to chart the western territory for the new colony. At the time, the boundaries of the colony went about as far west as what would later be referred to as Salem Village (Danvers), the last outpost of the English, and future site of many accusations from the Salem Witch Trials. I understand that Sprague was Anglican, not Puritan, but the family must have connected with the Puritans at some point because Rebecca Nurse (nee Towne) and her two sisters: Sarah Cloyce and Mary Easty hang from our family tree. Rebecca and Mary were hanged, but Sarah was spared. The character of Towner in my novels was named for Rebecca and her sisters. It is rumored that we are also related to one of the Witch Trial accusers, but I haven’t had the heart to research that part of the family tree yet. Tourism aside, generational guilt still plays a large role among Salemites.
I grew up on the Salem Harbor side of Marblehead, Massachusetts and was always fascinated by Salem often crossing the harbor to explore the city. My first job was as a tour guide at The House of the Seven Gables, from which I was fired for “making up stories.” My mother always said that was how she knew I’d grow up to be a fiction writer.
I moved away from the North Shore for college then on to Dublin, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles before coming back home to stay.
Brunonia Barry is the New York Times and international best selling author of The Lace Reader, The Map of True Places and The Fifth Petal. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. She was the first American author to win the International Women’s Fiction Festival’s Baccante Award and was a past recipient of Ragdale Artists’ Colony’s Strnad Fellowship as well as the winner of New England Book Festival’s award for Best Fiction and Amazon’s Best of the Month. Her reviews and articles on writing have appeared in The London Times and The Washington Post. Brunonia co-chairs the Salem Athenaeum’s Writers’ Committee. She lives in Salem with her husband Gary Ward and their dog, Angel.