Shirley Temple did a lot to make Rebecca famous when she won the world’s heart in the movie we all remember. But the story is more than Temple, the film, or our memory of it: this is the tale of the little showgirl who, sent to the country to live with prim and proper relatives, is forbidden to do anything, well, showy. But Rebecca has other ideas, of course, and you know she’ll win over the hearts and minds of everyone who’ll see her show. . . .
Certainly she won over Jack London. In 1904 he wrote to Wiggin herself: “May I thank you for Rebecca. . . ? I would have quested the wide world over to make her mine, only I was born too long ago and she was born but yesterday…. Why could she not have been my daughter? Why couldn’t it have been I who bought the three hundred cakes of soap? Why, O, why?” And Mark Twain, too: he described “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” as “beautiful and warm and satisfying.”
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