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Elisabeth Ogilvie, 89; novelist portrayed life of Maine coast

CUSHING, Maine -- Elisabeth Ogilvie, a prolific author best known for her colorful portrayals of Maine coastal and island life, died Saturday at her home in this midcoast town, 10 days after suffering a stroke. She was 89.

A native of Quincy, Mass., who vacationed in Maine and later moved there permanently, Ms. Ogilvie wrote 46 books, including 30 novels and 15 books for young adults.

``Although most of her books were not mysteries, Elisabeth Ogilvie was very like the fictional Jessica Fletcher, living and writing about life on a Maine island.

Her following was so great that two of her fans published a newsletter that was distributed to 48 states," said Karin Womer, the editor of Ms. Ogilvie's most recent books.

She wrote her first novel, ``High Tide at Noon," in 1944. It became one of several books known as the Bennett's Island series.

She followed her first book in the series with ``Storm Tide" and ``The Ebbing Tide." All published in the mid-1940s, the ``Tide Trilogy" drew on the atmosphere and characters that Ms. Ogilvie encountered during summers with her family on remote Criehaven, 25 miles off the Maine coast, which she called ``the island of my dreams."

She continued writing about the island well into her later years, completing the series with ``The Summer of the Osprey" in 1987 and ``The Day Before Winter" 10 years later.

Ms. Ogilvie's other works include the ``Jennie Trilogy," three historical novels that recount the early 19th century adventures of a young woman who flees social turmoil and family violence in the Scottish highlands and carves out a new life on the Maine coast.

She also wrote an autobiography, ``My World is an Island."

After graduating in 1934 from North Quincy High School, Ms. Ogilvie ``took a writing course or two at Harvard, but it was the end of the Depression and nobody could afford college at that point," said her niece, Barbara Mosher, who cared for her in later years.

Ms. Ogilvie, who never married, lived for many years in a farmhouse on 33-acre Gay's Island, off Cushing, and moved to a weathered white clapboard bungalow on the mainland five years ago. Fellow author Dorothy Simpson, her housemate and friend for more than 50 years, died in 1998.

Ms. Ogilvie's survivors include Mosher and other nieces and nephews.

The family is planning a memorial celebration next summer.

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