By 1812Blockhouse

Throughout its history, Richland County has produced or been the home to a wide variety of individuals that have made important contributions to the world. 1812Blockhouse has been sharing their stories in a series we started last year called “Richland Roots.” For other Richland Roots stories, click here.

There is a popular saying, “Behind every great man, there is a great woman.” This couldn’t be more accurate in the case of Mary Appleton Bromfield, the wife of the acclaimed author and Richland Countian Louis Bromfield. While Louis is widely recognized for his literary prowess, it is important to acknowledge the pivotal role Mary played in his life and career. Her steadfast support, comprehension, and affection were vital in helping him become the celebrated writer and farmer we remember him as today.

Mary Appleton was born into a distinguished Boston family, the daughter of Chalmers Wood and Ellen Smith Wood. She enjoyed a life of privilege and then married Louis Bromfield, an aspiring writer at the time, in 1921. The couple relocated to France, where they joined the renowned Lost Generation, a group of American writers and artists living and working in Paris throughout the 1920s. During this period, Mary offered both emotional and financial backing, allowing Louis to concentrate fully on his writing.

Contrary to her high-society upbringing, Mary was never reluctant to take on hands-on work. When the couple returned to the United States and established their home at Malabar Farm in Ohio in 1939, she played a crucial role in managing the farm and supporting Louis’s sustainable agriculture ventures. Mary shared her husband’s enthusiasm for land preservation and was key to ensuring their farming methods were eco-friendly and progressive.

Mary was not only an indispensable source of inspiration and motivation for Louis’s writing, but she also frequently provided constructive criticism and insightful feedback on his manuscripts. This allowed him to refine his thoughts and produce the best work possible. She was always by his side, offering encouragement and assistance during the challenging periods that all writers inevitably experience.

Mrs. Bromfield also took a turn at writing. In 1941, she published an illustrated article in Vogue Magazine, captioned “The Bromfields Live in Ohio.” In it, she described Malabar Farm as “…a very happy kind of place, and a happy kind of house and our friends come and go, making for us the kind of life we have always wished for.”

In addition to her role as Louis’s muse and editor, Mary was a dedicated mother to their three daughters. She instilled in them the same values and love for the environment that she and Louis held dear, guaranteeing that their legacy would continue through the next generation.

Mary Appleton Bromfield’s unwavering commitment to her husband and family played a significant role in the achievements of Louis Bromfield, both as a writer and an agricultural trailblazer. The Bromfields are buried together in the family plot at Olivet Cemetery in Lucas.

An image of Mary Bromfield and her daughters can be viewed here.

Photo: Malabar Farm – 1812Blockhouse

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