“Orphan train riders” was not a term that Kline had ever heard until about a decade ago, when she read an article on children without parents who came by rail to Jamestown, N.D., to be adopted, during the years of 1854-1929. The piece featured her husband’s grandfather, Frank Robertson, who had been orphaned at age 15 and shipped with his younger siblings from Missouri to North Dakota via rail.

“I’d never heard about orphan trains, and that was what sparked my interest,” said Kline, who was born in Cambridge, England and raised in Maine. Kline subsequently learned that her husband’s grandfather, having come from Missouri, was not an “orphan train rider,” technically speaking. “The official orphan trains all came from New York City and from points on the East Coast,” she said.

Kline served as Writer-in-Residence at Fordham University from 2007 to 2011, and has taught writing, poetry, English literature, literary theory, and women’s studies at Yale, New York University, and Drew University.

Kline has worked as a caterer, cook, and personal chef on the Maine coast, Martha’s Vineyard, and in Charlottesville, Virginia. She lives in an old house in Montclair, New Jersey, with her husband and three boys. She spends summers with extended family in an even older house on Mount Desert Island in Maine.


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