Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

When the postseasonal frost comes to the blackberry blossoms, it helps them set, promising a rich harvest. In Blackberry Winter: My Earlier Years, Margaret Mead describes how she sets her course early in life with help from her family. She presents young adult readers with an optimistic view of the richness of her life. The subtitle of the book, My Earlier Years, is misleading because the autobiography also includes information about her later life, even her pleasure in being a grandmother.

Born in 1901 in Philadelphia, Mead was the oldest and much-wanted daughter of Edward Sherwood Mead and Emily Fogg Mead. Mead’s father was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught economics and dabbled in economic process investments. Mead’s mother was interested in social work, often holding meetings at home to support various causes. Mead’s brother, Richard, was born when she was two years old. Her father then devoted his time to the more sickly Richard, while her mother cared for the daughters. Mead describes her mother’s grief at the death of the infant Katherine, born in 1906. Two other daughters were born, Elizabeth in 1909 and Priscilla in 1911. From an early age, Mead kept notes about her brother and sisters, describing the loving family relationships.

Mead’s love and respect for her paternal grandmother, who lived with the family, are carefully documented, especially the respect commanded by her...

(The entire section is 593 words.)