Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: A pioneering feminist far ahead of her time, Margaret Fuller was a perceptive literary and social critic, and America’s first woman foreign journalist.
Sarah Margaret Fuller was born on May 23, 1810, in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, the first of the nine children of Timothy Fuller and Margaret Crane Fuller. Her father, a prominent figure in Massachusetts politics, was a graduate of Harvard College and the absolute authority in his household. Keenly disappointed that his first child was a girl, Timothy Fuller nevertheless determined to educate her according to the classical curriculum of the day—an experience usually afforded only to boys.
Even as a small child, Margaret was directed by her father in a rigorous schedule of study. She learned both English and Latin grammar and, before she was ten years old, read Vergil, Ovid, and Horace as well as William Shakespeare. At age fourteen, Margaret went briefly to Miss Prescott’s School in Groton but soon returned home to immerse herself again in study. Although Margaret was intellectually developed far beyond her years, the girl’s intensity caused trouble in friendships, a pattern that continued throughout her life. Margaret was also uncomfortable with her physical appearance. Therefore, she decided to cultivate her intellect, spending fifteen-hour days reading literature and philosophy in four languages, breaking only for a...
(The entire section is 2414 words.)
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Margaret Fuller, a critic, essayist, and foreign correspondent associated with the Transcendentalists, is now considered to have been among the most brilliant and important literary figures of her day, though, ironically, not one of the best writers. She was the oldest of six children, who, because her father was disappointed that she was not a boy, was given a rigorous private education. She could read Latin fluently by the age of six and eventually developed a lifelong interest in German, English, and emergent American literature.
After he father died she turned to teaching to help support the family. At first she taught school in Providence while working on a biography of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In 1838 she returned to the Boston area, where she gave language lessons and, on the strength of her broad learning, effective conversation, and radical opinions, became a member of the Transcendental Club. In fact, her remarkable gift for discussing literature and ideas enabled her to organize “conversations” for women and men. Her talents for literary criticism became officially recognized when she became editor of the Transcendental journal The Dial from 1840 to 1842. During this period she became friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and others, all of whom were impressed with her powerful mind and strong ego.
(The entire section is 847 words.)
Biography (Women's Issues (Ready Reference series))
Sarah Margaret Fuller’s intellectual breadth and depth can be traced to the classical education she received at home and the Transcendentalist theory she explored while teaching in Boston. Her writings apply the Transcendentalist emphasis on “self- reliance” and development of the self to discussions of women’s rights.
From 1839 to 1844, Fuller earned a living running intellectual and educational “conversations,” first for women only but later attended by men as well. She also edited The Dial, the first major intellectual journal in the United States. When, in 1844, Fuller was recruited to write articles for the New York Tribune, she became the first American woman to support herself as a journalist.
In 1845, Fuller published her most influential work, Woman in the Nineteenth Century, in which she urged “every path [be] laid open to Woman as freely as to Man.” She compared the logic of women’s rights to the logic of abolition, saying, “As the friend of the Negro assumes that one man cannot by right hold another in bondage, so should the friend of Woman assume that Man cannot by right lay even well-meant restrictions on Woman.” Echoing in part the prevailing belief in “true womanhood,” Fuller stated that women are...
(The entire section is 858 words.)