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Beverly Jensen died of pancreatic cancer in 2003 at the age of 49, before any of her work was published. Thanks to the devotion and persistence of her husband, Jay Silverman, and Jensen's writing teacher, Jenifer Levin, as well as a chain of believers, Jensen's work has come to light.

The author grew up in Westbrook, Maine, the youngest of four sisters. She had relatives in New Brunswick, and some of her stories grew out of family lore and legend, though Jensen took these tales in her own direction. From her girlhood, she had a passion for the theatre and worked for some years as an actress, starring in many plays. Jensen began writing stories later on, when she and her husband decided to have children. Alice Munro was her favourite author and Jensen credited her as an influence.

When the author first became ill, her former college roommate sent a handful of her stories to editor and author Katrina Kenison (an ex-sister-in-law of the roommate), who admired her writing. After Jensen's death, Silverman and Levin gathered Jensen's stories together into the manuscript that became The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay. Jensen's first published story, Wake, appeared in The New England Review in 2006, was included in The Best American Short Stories 2007, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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