Paulene Hopkins was born in 1859 in Portland, Maine, but was raised in Boston, Massachusetts, by her parents Northrup Hopkins and Sarah Allen. Her skill as a writer gained recognition in 1874, when, at the age of fifteen, she received first prize in a contest for her essay titled Evils of Intemperance and Their Remedy. At the age of twenty, she completed her first play, Slaves' Escape, or, The Underground Railroad, which was later performed in a stage production and renamed Peculiar Sam.
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