Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman (October 31, 1852 – March 13, 1930) was a prominent 19th-century American author.Freeman was born in Randolph, Massachusetts on October 31, 1852, to Eleanor Lothrop and Warren Edward Wilkins, who originally baptized her ''Mary Ella''. Freeman's parents were orthodox Congregationalists, bestowing a very strict childhood. Religious constraints play a key role in some of her works.In 1867, the family moved to Brattleboro, Vermont, where Freeman graduated from the local high school before attending, Mount Holyoke College (then, Mount Holyoke Female Seminary) in South Hadley, Massachusetts, for one year, from 1870–71. She later finished her education at Glenwood Seminary in West Brattleboro. When the family's dry goods business in Vermont failed in 1873, the family returned to Randolph, Massachusetts. Freeman's mother died three years later, and she changed her middle name to ''Eleanor'' in her memory.Freeman's father died suddenly in 1883, leaving her without any immediate family and an estate worth only $973. She moved in with a friend and began writing as her only source of income.During a visit to Metuchen, New Jersey in 1892, she met Dr. Charles Manning Freeman, a non-practicing medical doctor seven years younger than she. After years of courtship and delays, the two were married on January 1, 1902. Immediately after, she firmly established her name as ''Mary E. Wilkins Freeman'', which she asked Harper's to use on all of her work.