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My Works

New Netherland in a Nutshell: A Concise History of the Dutch Colony in North America

In eleven succinct chapters, the reader gets it all: the background, the beginnings, the Indian wars, the turbulent Kieft and Stuyvesant directorships, the people, their desire for their needs and wants to be met, and the legacy the Dutch left behind. Firth tells the story of New Netherland in a highly readable fashion suitable for anyone unfamiliar with this important chapter in U.S. colonial history.

From the exploration of Henry Hudson in 1609 to the final transfer of the Dutch colony to the English in 1674,this book introduces key aspects of New Netherland: the multicultural makeup of the population, the privatization of colonization, the ability to survive with meager means against overwhelming odds, and the transfer of distinctive Dutch traits, such as toleration, free trade, and social mobility, all of which persisted long after New Netherland became New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and parts of Connecticut and Pennsylvania. New Netherland in a Nutshell will satisfy the questions: who were the Dutch, why did they come here, and what did they do once they got here?

Illustrated with the paintings of artist L. F. Tantillo, this "handy, richly packed resource gives the reader the background, the actors, the action, and the legacy. In clear prose, it covers a lot of history in a few pages." Russell Shorto, author of The Island at the Center of the World.

Land So Fair

LAND SO FAIR, Firth Haring Fabend's sixth novel, a family saga, opens in 1737 on a Hudson Valley farm, where the family's land, "sought, bought, cleared, planted, harvested, bequeathed, fought over, challenged, confiscated, and laced with blood and bones," is threatened anew each generation. The family is the author's own family--she is the eleventh generation of it--and the three strong-minded women in this gripping story are her own grandmothers. Constant threats to their land by outside usurpers, feared and fearful slave uprisings, and a dawning realization that the desire of the colonies to be independent from England is leading inexorably to Revolution define their daily lives, creating conflicts for them--and an exciting read for the booklover.

As the struggle for independence from England versus loyalty to the Crown heats up, war erupts, dividing families into opposite camps and producing ever-more desperate challenges to daily life. These divisions end in a fierce local "civil war" between Loyalists and Patriots that throws the looting and plundering, bloody massacres, and battles and treason of the Revolution into horrifying relief. Readers will quickly recognize that it's their fair land, too, and their history, too, that Fabend describes in LAND SO FAIR.

Firth Fabend's five previous novels, published between 1968 and 1985, are The Best of Intentions, Three Women, A Perfect Stranger, The Woman Who Went Away, and Greek Revival. With LAND SO FAIR, she returns to the novel after twenty-five years of writing and publishing history. Combining her skills in plot construction and suspense with a well-honed insistence on historical veracity, she creates in LAND SO FAIR a hair-raising saga of colonial life.

Readers have universally praised Land So Fair as "poignant, gripping, and richly researched."
"An extraordinary weaving of fiction with geopolitical, socioeconomic, Revolutionary War, and culinary and even medical facts of the era."
"Evocative prose that creates a vivid New World."
"A compelling rendering of the full horror and intimacy of a war that wrenched families apart and shattered loyalties of blood and background."
"Rests securely on its historical underpinnings, but billows out into a rich and wonderful novel."

The Best of Intentions

THE BEST OF INTENTIONS: “So sensitively written, final cruel vengeance comes as a searing shock.” Daily Telegraph. “Devastating climax, powerful and impressive in its simplicity.” New Haven Register. “A special talent for characterization and dialog.” Publishers Weekly. “Consistently elegant with dashes of unmalicious wit.” London Times.

A Perfect Stranger

A PERFECT STRANGER: "Works because the people are real and their feelings genuine.” Publishers Weekly. “A curiously good book, very well written and tender.” N.Y. Times. “The characters are alive, the plot completely persuasive.” Houston Chronicle. “Written with a sharp scalpel that comes perilously close to the nerve-ends of truth in our time.” Chicago Tribune.

The Woman Who Went Away

Wife, mother, and teacher Margot Delaunoy takes off for a vacation alone at her family’s camp in the Adirondacks. But unfortunately, a seemingly gentle young man has gotten there ahead of her.

“A taut, suspenseful allegory of evil.”
--San Francisco Review of Books

“For those who like their suspense on the dark side.”
--Library Journal


Zion on the Hudson: Dutch New York and New Jersey in the Age of Revivals (2000)

A work both broad and intimate that looks at the way one mainstream Protestant denomination dealt with the transformative events of the evangelical era.


"This work, along with her previous book A Dutch Family in the Middle Colonies, 1660-1800, establishes Fabend as the pre-eminent expert in Dutch-American culture." C. H. Libby, Choice.

A Dutch Family in the Middle Colonies, 1660-1800 (1991)

Winner of the Annual Book Award of the New York State Historical Association and the Hendricks Prize of the New Netherland Institute

Describes how a Dutch farming family acquired land in New Netherland and took part in the social, political, economic, military, and religious changes of the seventeenth and eighteen centuries.

“A model family and community study, polished, intelligent, and clearly written.”
--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

A Catch of Grandmothers

From Russell Shorto, author of Island at the Center of the World:

“When I read poetry, I'm sort of lying in wait for the lines or phrases that will shock or thrill me. A Catch of Grandmothers is full of them-- and history and individuals and harshness and the odd punctuating moments of pleasure, too. Beautiful.”

From Richard B. Lyman, historian and native of Rockland County:

A Catch of Grandmothers is a unique contribution to the historical literature of America. Touching without falling into sentimentality, it captures the lives of the author's foremothers over three centuries of American history. The poetic vehicle chosen is just right for the subject and is delightful to read as well."

Only a Paper Life, A Memoir

A coming-of-age story in a world long gone, but still oddly unchanged in unsettling ways.

Reactions from those who were there:

"A little masterpiece. I know nothing else like it."

"You wonderfully bring it all back to life, and it looks terrifyingly familiar and very true!"

"It was lovely to read your evocation of our Cambridge."

"Imagine my delight to find your new book. I could barely put it down. Read through the whole night!"

Essays and Chapters in Books by Firth Haring Fabend.

"The Dutch American Farmer: 'A Mad Rabble' or ‘Gentlemen Standing Up for Their Rights?’" de Halve Maen (Journal of the Holland Society of New York), 63:1 (1990), 7-10.

"'According to Holland Custome': Jacob Leisler and the Loockermans Estate Feud," de Halve Maen, 67:1 (1994), 1-8.

"Suffer the Little Children: Evangelical Childrearing in Reformed Dutch Households, New York and New Jersey, 1826-1876," de Halve Maen, 68:2 (1995), 26-33.

"The Synod of Dort and the Persistence of Dutchness in 19th-Century New York and New Jersey," New York History, 77 (July 1996), 273-300.

"William Bertholf," American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999). Also articles on four other seventeenth-century Reformed clergymen in ibid.

"Pious and Powerful: The Evangelical Mother in Reformed Dutch Households, New York and New Jersey, 1826-1876," in Patterns and Portraits: A History of Women in the Reformed Church in America (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1999).

"New Light on New Netherland," de Halve Maen, 73:3 (Fall 2000), 51- 55.

"Church and State, Hand in Hand: Compassionate Calvinism in New Netherland," de Halve Maen, 75:1 (Spring 2002), 3-8.

“Noblewomen, City Women, and Grandmothers: Female Role Models for the Huguenot Woman in Early New York,” 400th Anniversary Commemoration of the Edict of Nantes (New York: Huguenot Society of America, 2002).

“’Nieu Amsterdam’: A Copper Engraving from the 17th Century,” New York History, 85:3 (Summer 2004), 233-246.

"Sex and the City: Relations Between Men and Women in New Netherland." Revisiting New Netherland: Perspectives on Early Dutch America, ed. Joyce D. Goodfriend (Herndon, Va.: Brill, 2005).

"The Dutch American Farmer: 'A Mad Rabble' or ‘Gentlemen Standing Up for Their Rights?’" (revised version), The Hudson Valley Regional Review, 22:2 (Spring 2006), 79-90.

“From Jan Claus’ Land to t’Greynbos to Blauveltville to Blauvelt,” South of the Mountains (New City, NY: Historical Society of Rockland County), 50:2 (April-June 2006), 3-18.

“Pierre Cresson: Pierre Le Gardinier,” de Halve Maen, 79:2 (Summer 2006), 34-36.

“Cosyn Gerritsen van Putten: New Amsterdam’s Wheelwright,” de Halve Maen, 80:2 (Summer 2007), 23-30.

“Jan Pietersen Haring, 1633-1683: Sightings and Connections, Hoorn, New Amsterdam, New York and New Jersey,” South of the Mountains (New City, NY: Historical Society of Rockland County), 51:4 (October-December 2007), 3-22.


"Jan Pieterszen Haring: A Corrective Note," South of the Mountains (New City, NY: Historical Society of Rockland County), 64:1 (January-March, 2020), 3-7. Corrections made necessary by new information. Further corrections in ibid., 64:3, 18.

"Cornmeal Mush and Other Myths: Four Misperceptions of the Dutch Experience in New Netherland," de Halve Maen, 82 (Fall 2009), 3:47-50.

"The Dutch-American Political Elite in New York State, 1783-1840s," Four Centuries of Dutch-American Relations, 1609-2009, ed. Hans Krabbendam, Cornelis A. Van Minnen, and Giles Scott-Smith (Albany: SUNY Press/Middelburg: Roosevelt Study Center, 2009), 250-259.

"A Novel Is Born in New York's Archives," New York Archives, 8 (Spring 2009), 4:32-35.

"Pro-Leislerian Farmers in Early New York: A 'Mad Rabble' or 'Gentlemen Standing Up for Their Rights'"? American's First River, coll. Tbomas S. Wermuth, James M. Johnson, and Christopher Pryslopski (Poughkeepsie: Hudson River Valley Institute/Albany: SUNY, 2009), 41-48.

"The Reformed Dutch Church and the Persistence of Dutchness in New York and New Jersey," Dutch New York: The Roots of Hudson Valley Culture, ed. Roger Panetta (New York: Hudson River Museum/Fordham University Press), 137-158.

"The Reverend Gerrit Lydekker: A Tory Among Patriots," in Leon van den Broeke, Hans Krabbendam, and Dirk Mouw, eds., Transatlantic Pieties: Dutch Clergy in Colonial America (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012).

"The Reverend Gideon Schaats: An Old World Dominie in the New World," in Leon van den Broeke, Hans Krabbendam, and Dirk Mouw, eds., Transatlantic Pieties: Dutch Clergy in Colonial America, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012).

"The Slote: Waterway to a Rustic Capital and to Protestant International," South of the Mountains, 56 (October-December, 2012), 3-18.