The Little Locksmith

The Little Locksmith


Katherine Butler Hathaway
A classic memoir of a disabled woman's spiritual growth.

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Paperback Edition
Publication Date: 07-01-2000

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Foreword by Alix Kates Shulman
Afterword by Nancy Mairs

This unforgettable memoir was published in 1943 to great critical acclaim, called "a sheer delight" (The Boston Globe). Strapped to a bed from ages five to fifteen in a failed attempt to prevent her being a "hunchback," Hathaway goes on to attend Radcliffe and make her own home in Castine, Maine, the setting for her growth as a writer and an independent woman.

"Rediscovered by the Feminist Press, this remarkably un-self-pitying book remains poignant and truthful. Hathaway's descriptions of the writing process are beautiful and on the mark. Hathaway treats the actual events in her life as practically irrelevant: the story she emphasizes is her spiritual and creative struggle to claim "selfish" time to write, her intense loneliness, her startlingly frank observations about her sexuality and her rebellion against the belief that an imperfect person does not experience desire." Publishers Weekly

"Katharine Butler Hathaway . . . was the kind of heroine whose deeds are rarely chronicled. . . . [She took] a life which fate had cast in the mold of a frightful tragedy and redesign[ed] it into a quiet, modest work of art. The life was her own. When [she] was five, she fell victim to spinal tuberculosis. For ten years she was strapped to a board . . . and for the rest of her life, though she could move about, she was hopelessly deformed. Her body never grew any larger than that of a ten-year-old child. Her imagination, her understanding of herself, and her vision of the modes by which her life could be transformed—these, however, grew greater and greater." The New Yorker

"No words can convey the fascination and charm of this story. It is a powerful revelation of spiritual truth, won by experience of the two worlds: the world seen and the world unseen." The Boston Globe

“You must not miss it: indeed you will not be able to do so, for it will be with us for some time, and for you it will remain unescapable. . . . It is the kind of book that cannot come into being without great living and great suffering and a rare spirit behind it.” The New York Times