It is of course possible that Patience Worth, whatever she may have been may not have understood her real identity any more than any of us understand her identity or our own identity for that matter. It might be a reasonable explanation to say that Patience Worth was simply a past life personality of Pearl Curran, or perhaps something akin to an oversoul of Pearl Curran who had access to various lifetimes in which the spirit of Pearl Curran had lived. Maybe Pearl Curran at one time lived as the women in her novels---Theia, Telka, or Hope Trueblood---or as Patience Worth. In light of current interest on past life regressions through hypnosis and spontaneous reports of knowledge of past lives by children under five years old and others, that explanation might receive more credence today than it did during the 1920's and 30's when much of the dissection of "Patience Worth" occurred.
Whatever the explanation, the Patience Worth /Pearl Curran relationship exists as an enigma unexplainable by any definitive means today.
One afterthought---Patience Worth is perhaps more current today, in 2003 than she was in the first quarter of the 20th century. She is a woman's woman. Thoroughly feminine and proud of it. "I be dame." she said sometimes as an excuse but always with a sense of joy of womanhood. If one looks at her novels one sees primarily dominant female characters, sometimes slightly veiled by the plot but always there, providing a continuity of characterization and storyline. Beginning with Theia in The Sorry Tale, to Telka, to Hope Trueblood, her stories are about living real women and their relationships with men and with society. Characterizations of women abound in the writings of Patience Worth, sometimes drawn with a broad brush and sometimes with a fine quill pen, but always with a strength and vitality that leads the reader to understand the depth and breadth of female emotions.
For example, while The Sorry Tale is often referred to as a story about the life and times of Jesus Christ, it really is not focused on Jesus. It is perhaps more precisely about the woman Theia, a Greek slave dancer to the Roman Emperor Tiberius, exiled from Rome when she became pregnant with his child. Throughout the long story, Theia weaves and dances her way in and out of the story line beginning with the birth of her illegitimate son whom she sometimes called "Hate" or "Hatte" and ending with his crucifiction as a thief and murderer on the cross next to Jesus. The "Sorry Tale" on one level is a story about a woman's travail on earth. It is a story of a mother's woe and love for her child. It is a story about a mother's loss and a woman's grief. It is a story of a mother's failure with her child and a mother's inability to free herself from the love for her child no matter how fate may direct his course or hers. It is a story of a woman's descent into mental illness, a mental illness with hate as it's cause. It is a story of hate and love and how they can sometimes come to the same end.
Permit me to quote, what I think might be a relevant statement by Theia early in "The Sorry Tale" as she swayed and chanted as what Patience Worth called a "see-woman", that is, a prophetess, in somewhat of a frenzy, not able to let go of her anger at Rome for the evils she, her son Hatte and others had experienced or would experience at its hands.