Lydia (Howard Huntley) Sigourney Criticism - Essay

John S. Hart (essay date 1852)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Lydia H. Sigourney,” in The Female Prose Writers of America with Portraits, Biographical Notices, and Specimens of Their Writings, E. H. Butler & Co., 1852, pp. 76–92.

[In the following essay, Hart presents a study of Sigourney's life and works with excerpts from her prose.]

Justice has hardly been done to Mrs. Sigourney as a prose writer. She has been so long, and is so familiarly, quoted as a poet, that the public has in a measure forgotten that her indefatigable pen has sent forth almost a volume of prose yearly for more than a quarter of a century—that her prose works already issued number, in fact, twenty-five volumes, averaging more than two...

(The entire section is 3691 words.)

E. B. Huntington (essay date 1869)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Lydia H. Sigourney,” in Eminent Women of the Age; Being Narratives of the Lives and Deeds of the Most Prominent Women of the Present Generation, by James Parton et al., S. M. Betts & Company, 1869, pp. 85-101.

[In the following essay, Huntington briefly sketches Sigourney's life in an effort to account for her widespread popularity.]

Were any intelligent American citizen now asked to name the American woman, who, for a quarter of a century before 1855, held a higher place in the respect and affections of the American people than any other woman of the times had secured, it can hardly be questioned that the prompt reply would be, Mrs. Lydia Huntley...

(The entire section is 5370 words.)

Annie Finch (essay date 1988)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Sentimental Poetess in the World: Metaphor and Subjectivity in Lydia Sigourney's Nature Poetry,” in Legacy, Vol. 5, No. 2, Fall, 1988, pp. 3-18.

[In the following essay, Finch claims that Sigourney has been widely neglected recently because she fails to accommodate the predominant model of poetic subjectivity and instead describes nature poetically, but without using it as a means to her own self-expression.]

In the revision of American women's literary history that has been taking place over the past few decades, one important area has remained almost completely untouched.1 While novels, stories, and memoirs by eighteenth- and...

(The entire section is 7780 words.)

Nina Baym (essay date 1990)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Reinventing Lydia Sigourney,” in American Literature, Vol. 62, No. 3, September, 1990, pp. 385-404.

[In the following essay, Baym claims that critics have failed to appreciate the extent to which Sigourney's writings express a very public (as opposed to domestic) program, which required Sigourney to assume particular social roles as a strategy to achieve a mass audience.]

If Lydia Howard Huntley Sigourney had not existed, it would have been necessary to invent her. In fact, she was invented. As American women writers began to publish in numbers before the Civil War, one of their number would inevitably be construed as an epitome of the phenomenon of female...

(The entire section is 8300 words.)

Dorothy Z. Baker (essay date 1997)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Ars Poetica/Ars Domestica: The Self-Reflexive Poetry of Lydia Sigourney and Emily Dickinson,” in Poetics in the Poem: Critical Essays on American Self-Reflexive Poetry, edited by Dorothy Z. Baker, Peter Lang, 1997, pp. 69-89.

[In the following essay, Baker claims that both Sigourney and Dickinson use images of domesticity in attempts to forge an identity for the American woman poet.]

I'm plain at speech, direct in purpose: when
I speak, you'll take the meaning as it is,
And not allow for puckerings in the silks
By clever stitches. I'm a woman, sir,
And use the woman's figures naturally,
As you, the male license.

(Elizabeth Barrett...

(The entire section is 7292 words.)