Showing posts with label Poets and Writers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Poets and Writers. Show all posts


Almira Phelps

educator Almira Phelps

Educator and Author of Science Textbooks

Almira Phelps was a 19th century educator and author who published several popular science textbooks, the most famous of which was Familiar Lectures on Botany (1829). Although it was received with condescension by male scientists, this book introduced a new style of science book for young students and influenced women to study the natural sciences. She wrote textbooks in all major fields of science except astronomy.

Almira Hart was born on July 15, 1793, in Berlin, Connecticut, the youngest of seventeen children. She grew up in a family of intellectuals who prized independent thinking, and received much of her education at home, where her siblings debated literature and politics. She was also an avid reader and spent some time studying in local district schools.


Delia Bacon

Woman Who Thought Shakespeare Was a Fraud

questioned the authorship of Shakespeare's plays
Delia Bacon was an American author and playwright who is best know today for her theory that William Shakespeare's plays were actually written by a group of British men, including Francis Bacon (no relation), Sir Walter Raleigh and others.

Early Years

Delia Salter Bacon was born on February 2, 1811 on what was then the frontier in Tallmadge, Ohio, the daughter of a minister, who left New Haven for the wilds of Ohio in pursuit of a vision. In 1817 her father went bankrupt and the family moved to Hartford, Connecticut, and her father died soon after. All six children were promptly farmed out to friends of the family. Delia was lucky enough to attend a private school run by Catherine Beecher, the sister of author Harriet Beecher Stowe.


Mary Gove Nichols

Author and Leader in the Health Reform Movement

Though little known today, Mary Gove Nichols was once one of the most influential women in America, a radical social reformer and pioneering feminist who preached equality in marriage, free love, spiritualism, the health risks of corsets and masturbation, the benefits of the water cure and the importance of happiness.

Image: Mary Gove Nichols, as drawn by her daughter Elma Gove, 1853

Mary Neal was born on August 10, 1810 in Goffstown, New Hampshire. In 1822 her favorite older sister died and the family moved to Craftsbury, Vermont. Mary's education came in spurts in various small town schools, but she was a voracious reader and by her teens she was writing stories and essays for newspapers and magazines.

Popular Health Movement
In colonial America, most medical care was administered at home by a woman, and the lay practice of medicine was dominated by women. However, by the 1820s self-proclaimed male doctors had displaced even midwifery in the care chosen by the upper and middle classes. The decline of women as medical practitioners parallels their withdrawal from other occupations, such as shopkeeping, in which women had freely engaged during the colonial period.


Elizabeth Margaret Chandler

illustration of 19th century abolitionist poet and author

Advocate of the Immediate Abolition of Slavery

Elizabeth Margaret Chandler was a noted author and abolitionist poet in the early 19th century who became the first woman in America to make the abolition of slavery the principal theme in her writing. Her brief life was marked by a series of literary achievements that can only be described as impressive, given the virtual invisibility of women at that time.

Elizabeth Margaret Chandler was born December 24, 1807 in Centre, Delaware to Thomas and Margaret Evans Chandler. She had two older brothers, William Guest and Thomas. The Chandlers were members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and they lived the strict, orderly and disciplined life of a Quaker family.


Caroline Kirkland

early 19th century author of books about the Michigan frontier

Author, Educator and Magazine Editor

Caroline Kirkland (1801–1864) was a relatively early American writer, and author of three books about frontier days on the Michigan frontier. As an editor, Kirkland demonstrated a strong commitment to realism in the materials she accepted for publication and considerable critical skill in her reviews, including an enthusiastic response to Herman Melville's early books.

On January 11, 1801 Caroline Mathilda Stansbury was born into a middle class family in New York City, where she spent most of her childhood and adolescence. She was the oldest of eleven children born to Samuel and Eliza Alexander Stansbury. Caroline grew up in a loving and tolerant family and enjoyed many advantages as a girl. Her mother was herself a poet and fiction author, and Caroline later revised and published some of her mother's work in her own gift books.


Sarah Grimke

photograph of Sarah Grimke, outspoken activist for the abolionist and women's rights movements in antebellum America
Sarah Grimke helped pioneer the antislavery and women's rights movements in the United States. The daughter of a South Carolina slave-holder, she began as an advocate for the abolition of slavery, but was severely criticized for the public role she assumed in support of the abolitionist movement. In Letters on the Equality of the Sexes, and the Condition of Woman (1838), Grimke defended the right of women to speak in public in defense of a moral cause.

Childhood and Early Years
Sarah Moore Grimke was born on November 26, 1792, in Charleston, South Carolina. She was the eighth of fourteen children and the second daughter of Mary and John Faucheraud Grimke, a wealthy plantation owner who was also an attorney and a judge. The Grimkes lived alternately between a fashionable townhouse in Charleston and the sprawling Beaufort plantation in the country.


Sarah Helen Whitman

Sarah Helen Whitman, 19th century poet and fiancee of Edgar Allan Poe
Sarah Helen Whitman was a poet, essayist and fiancee of author Edgar Allan Poe. Whitman and Poe were engaged, and had her family not interfered in the relationship, they might have married. She was also active in the women's suffrage movement in Rhode Island as well as in other efforts at social reform.

Sarah Helen Power was born in Providence, Rhode Island on January 19, 1803, six years to the day before Edgar Allan Poe. Reading from an early age, Sarah was given a good education. She began writing poetry while at school, and beginning in the 1820s, her poetry appeared in newspapers, magazines, annuals and gift books.


Lydia Maria Child

prolific 19th century author, social reformer and journalist
Lydia Maria Child ranks among the most influential nineteenth-century women authors, and was one of the first American women to earn a living from her writing. She was renowned in her day as a crusader for truth and justice and a champion of excluded groups in American society - especially Indians, slaves and women. She then turned her energies to reform and became a leading abolitionist.

Maria Child is probably best remembered today for the Thanksgiving children's poem, "Over the River and Through the Woods." But in her lifetime she published more than fifty books, plus short stories, poems and articles for periodicals. The North American Review, the leading literary periodical of the time, commented: "We are not sure that any woman of our country could outrank Mrs. Child. Few female writers, if any, have done more or better things for our literature..."


Maria Stewart

First African American Woman to Lecture in Public

Maria Stewart was an essayist, lecturer, abolitionist and women's rights activist. She was the earliest known American woman to lecture in public on political issues. Stewart is known for four powerful speeches she delivered in Boston in the early 1830s - a time when no woman, black or white, dared to address an audience from a public platform.

Early Years
She was born free as Maria Miller in 1803 in Hartford, Connecticut. All that is known about her parents is their surname, Miller. At the age of five, she lost both her parents and was forced to become a servant in the household of a white clergyman. She lived with this family for ten years.


Anne Royall

early 19th century author and journalist

First American Newspaperwoman

Anne Royall (1769-1854) was a professional journalist, travel writer and the first newspaperwoman in the United States. At the age of 62, Royall published her own newspapers, Paul Pry (1831-1836) and The Huntress (1836-1854), from her home in Washington, DC.

Early Years
She was born Anne Newport near Baltimore, Maryland on June 11, 1769. In 1772 her parents moved to the frontier of western Pennsylvania, where the family lived in a log cabin only eight feet broad and ten feet long. It contained a bed, a puncheon table and four stools.


Jane McManus

one of the most influential female journalists of the 19th century America

First Female War Correspondent in the U.S.

Jane McManus (1807–1878) was a single mother and journalist, an adventurer and the first female war correspondent in American history. Whether she was land speculating in Texas, behind enemy lines during the Mexican American War, filibustering for Cuba or Nicaragua or urging free blacks to emigrate to the Dominican Republic, McManus seldom took the easy path.

No matter what name or pseudonym she was using at the time, Jane Eliza McManus Storm Cazneau was one of the most formidable women of the 19th century. She foresaw a nation with equal rights for all, in a world in which representative government was the norm rather than the exception. She was not just an advocate of Manifest Destiny, she fought for it with her pen and her life.


Dorothea Dix

author, educator, philanthropist and Union Superintendent of Army Nurses during the Civil War

Educator, Social Reformer and Humanitarian

Dorothea Dix (1802–1887) was a social reformer, primarily for the treatment of the mentally ill, and the most visible humanitarian of the 19th century. Through a long and vigorous program of lobbying state legislatures and the U.S. Congress, Dix created the first generation of American mental hospitals. During the Civil War, she served as Superintendent of Army Nurses for the Union Army.

Dorothea Lynde Dix was born on April 4, 1802 in Hampden, Maine. She was the first child of three born to Mary Bigelow Dix and Joseph Dix, an itinerant Methodist preacher. Her mother suffered from depression and was bedridden during most of Dorothea's childhood. Her father was an abusive alcoholic. After her mother gave birth to two more children, Joseph and Charles, Dorothea assumed responsibility for their care.


Sarah Wentworth Morton

Massachusett poet who was the first to use Native Americans and African slaves as subject matter in her poetry

18th Century Poet and Writer

Sarah Wentworth Morton, poet of the American Revolution, is remembered for the long, sentimental, narrative poems in which she considers the make-up of the new nation, inter-racial relationships and heroism, both male and female. In her own time she was renowned for her poetry about the virtues of freedom. Though too invested in the idea of submission to be a feminist, she had the status and role of women very much at heart.

Sarah Apthorp was born in Boston, Massachusetts to the wealthy Boston merchant, James Apthorp and Sarah Wentworth Apthorp. She was baptized at King's Chapel on August 29, 1759 (the exact date of her birth is unknown). Her family eventually numbered eleven children.


Jane Johnston Schoolcraft

author, storyteller and recorder of Ojibwe oral history

Native American Author and Poet

Jane Johnston Schoolcraft (1800-1842) was the first Native American literary writer. She was also the first known Indian woman writer, the first known American Indian poet and the first known poet to write poems in a Native American language. Now, critics speculate about the extent to which Jane also contributed to her husband's writings, for which she was rarely given credit. So pensively joyful, so humbly sublime - this final line of her poem "Pensive Hours" aptly describes Schoolcraft's writing.

Childhood and Early Years
Jane Johnston Schoolcraft was born on January 31, 1800 in Sault Ste. Marie in the upper peninsula of what is now the state of Michigan. Her Ojibwe name was Bamewawagezhikaquay, which translates as Woman of the Sound that Stars Make Rushing through the Sky. One writer describes Schoolcraft as having been "intelligent, gentle, gracious and deeply religious," and, physically, "fairly tall and slender, with dark eyes and hair, which she wore in ringlets."


Lydia Sigourney

photograph of 19th century American poet, author and businesswoman Lydia Sigourney

Poet, Author, Educator and Businesswoman

Lydia Sigourney (1791–1865) was a popular poet, essayist and travel writer during the early and mid 19th century. Most of her works were published with just her married name Mrs. Sigourney. Her poetry, like her prose, was about public subjects - history, slavery, missionary work and current events - or treated personal matters, especially loss and death, as experiences common to all. In contrast to Emily Dickinson or Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sigourney wrote for popular consumption, and was among the first American women to establish a successful writing career.

Early Years
Lydia Huntley was born in Norwich, Connecticut, on September 1, 1791, the only child of a gardener-handyman and his wife. Lydia's commitments to education, writing and charity were formed early. As a child she wrote poetry and essays and kept a journal.


Margaret Fuller

American writer, editor, social reformer and feminist

America's First True Feminist

Author, editor, and journalist, Margaret Fuller (1810–1850) holds a distinctive place in the cultural life of the American Renaissance. Literary critic, editor, author, political activist and women's rights advocate - she was also the first full-time American female book reviewer in journalism. Her book Woman in the Nineteenth Century is considered the first major feminist work in the United States. Her death at sea was a tragedy for her family and colleagues, and the loss of her many talents to womankind, then and now, is immeasurable.

Childhood and Early Years
On May 23, 1810, Sarah Margaret Fuller was the first-born child of Margarett Crane and Timothy Fuller, Jr. of Cambridgeport, Massachusetts. A lawyer and a Republican in Federalist New England, Timothy Fuller was elected to the Massachusetts Senate in 1813 and in 1818 began the first of four terms in the United States Congress, finally retiring to write. Eight daughters and sons were born to the couple, and six grew to adulthood.


Susanna Rowson

best-selling author of plays, poetry, songs, novels and textbooks and pioneer educator

Early American Educator, Novelist and Actress

Susanna Rowson's novel Charlotte Temple became the first bestseller in America when it was published in 1794 by Matthew Carey of Philadelphia. Rowson (1762–1824) was a British-American novelist, poet, textbook author, playwright and actress. She was also a pioneer in female education, opening the Academy for Young Ladies in Boston in 1797, offering an advanced curriculum to young ladies, and operating the school until her retirement in 1822.

Childhood and Early Years
Susanna Haswell was born in 1762 in Portsmouth, England to Royal Navy Lieutenant William Haswell and Susanna Musgrave Haswell, who soon died from complications of childbirth, an event that surely influenced Rowson's fiction. Her father left Susanna in England in the care of relatives and went to Massachusetts, where he was stationed in Boston as a customs officer for the British Royal Navy.


Sarah Josepha Hale

Author, Editor and Champion of Women's Education

champion of women's education, writer and editor of the most successful women's magazine of the 19th century
Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879) was America's first woman editor and the author of many novels and poems, publishing nearly fifty volumes of work in her lifetime. President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1864 after Hale had spent 40 years campaigning for a national day of thanks. An early activist for women's education and property rights and editor of the 19th century's most successful woman's magazine (Godey's) - these are only a few of the many accomplishments of the extraordinary woman who is now unknown to most Americans.

Childhood and Early Years
Sarah Josepha Buell was born October 24, 1788 in Newport, New Hampshire to Gordon and Martha Whittlesay Buell. A voracious reader of whatever books were available, Sarah noticed that "of all the books I saw, few were written by Americans, and none by women," and she was inspired at an early age, to "promote the reputation of my own sex, and do something for my own country."


Emma Willard

19th century educator and writer of poetry and textbooks

Writer and Educator of Young Women

Emma Hart Willard (1787-1870) was an educator and writer who dedicated her life to women's education. She worked in several schools and founded the first school for women's higher education, the Troy Female Seminary in Troy, New York. With the success of her school, she was able to travel across the country and abroad, to promote education for women. Willard pioneered the teaching of science, mathematics and social studies to young women.

Childhood and Early Years
Emma Hart was born on February 23, 1787 in rural Berlin, Connecticut. She was the sixteenth of seventeen children from her father, Samuel Hart, and his second wife Lydia Hinsdale Hart. Her father was a farmer who encouraged his children to read and think for themselves. At a young age, Willard's father recognized her passion for learning.


Jarena Lee

first woman preacher for the African Methodist Episcopal Church

First Woman Preacher in the AME Church

Jarena Lee was a 19th century African American woman who left behind an eloquent account of her religious experiences, first published as The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee in 1836 and later revised and expanded as Religious Experience and Journal of Mrs. Jarena Lee in 1849. She was also the first woman authorized to preach by Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Jarena Lee was born on February 11, 1783 in Cape May, New Jersey to free but poor black parents. Because of the economic circumstances of her family, Lee was sent off to work as a live-in servant when she was just seven, "at the distance of about sixty miles from the place of my birth."