Lydia Maria Child Criticism - Essay

Lydia Maria Francis

The North American Review (review date 1833)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A book review in The North American Review, Vol. XXXVII, No. LXXX, July, 1833, pp. 138-64.

[In the following unsigned review of several of Child's books, the reviewer proclaims Child a leading American woman author, offers an overview of her works, and recaps in detail several of the biographical sketches in the books reviewed.]

When Napoleon told Madame de Staël that she was the first woman in the republic, who bore the most children, though he said a good thing, it was hardly a true one. We should go somewhat more for the intellectual, and say that she was the first, and the best too, who wrote the most useful books. Governing ourselves by this standard, we...

(The entire section is 11114 words.)

John G. Whittier (essay date 1883)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An Introduction to Letters of Lydia Maria Child. Negro University Presses, 1969, pp. v-xxv.

[In the following introduction to an 1883 edition of Child's letters, Whittier recalls both Child's professional achievements and her personal life, stressing in particular the marked resilience of her principles.]

In presenting to the public this memorial volume [The Letters of Lydia Maria Child,] its compilers deemed that a brief biographical introduction was necessary; and as a labor of love I have not been able to refuse their request to prepare it.

Lydia Maria Francis was born in Medford, Massachusetts, February 11, 1802. Her father, David...

(The entire section is 6017 words.)

Thomas Wentworth Higginson (essay date 1899)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Lydia Maria Child," in Contemporaries, Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1899, pp. 108-41.

[In the essay below, Higginson discusses Child's broad cultural influence, tempering a general synopsis of her life and works with his personal recollections of her.]

To those of us who were by twenty years or more the juniors of Mrs. Child, she always presented herself rather as an object of love than of cool criticism, even if we had rarely met her face to face. In our earliest recollections she came before us less as author or philanthropist than as some kindly and omnipresent aunt, beloved forever by the heart of childhood,—some one gifted with all lore, and furnished...

(The entire section is 7314 words.)

Seth Curtis Beach (essay date 1905)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Lydia Maria Child," in Daughters of the Puritans: A Group of Brief Biographies, Books for Libraries Press, Inc., 1905, pp. 79-119.

[In the following excerpt, Beach provides an overview of Child's life and career.]

In the second quarter of the nineteenth century, few names in American literature were more conspicuous than that of Lydia Maria Child, and among those few, if we except that of Miss Sedgwick, there was certainly no woman's name. Speaking with that studied reserve which became its dignity, the North American Review said of her:

We are not sure that any woman of our country could outrank Mrs. Child. This...

(The entire section is 8547 words.)

Margaret Farrand Thorp (essay date 1949)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Dusting Mirrors," in Female Persuasion: Six Strong-Minded Women, Yale University Press, 1949, pp. 215-53.

[In the biographical sketch below, Thorp delineates the "dichotomy of mind" that prompted Child to alternate between apparently apolitical works and her highly political antislavery tracts.]

"Too much cannot be said on the importance of giving children early habits of observation." When, in 1832, Maria Child wrote that dictum in her Mother's Book she was anxious not only that the young should be made to see truth but that they should be helped to enjoy the world. And she was making, really, an autobiographical statement. Observation was for her the...

(The entire section is 10982 words.)

Kirk Jeffrey (essay date 1975)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Marriage, Career, and Feminine Ideology in Nineteenth-Century America: Reconstructing the Marital Experience of Lydia Maria Child, 1828-1874," in Feminist Studies, Vol. 2, No. 2/3, 1975, pp. 113-30.

[In the essay below, Jeffrey examines the consonance between Child's nontraditional married and professional life and her relatively conservative opinion about women's social roles.]

Historians who have examined the careers of women who became writers and social reformers in the period from the 1830s to the Civil War have suggested that many of them were covertly protesting against their subordination and expressing hostility to men and the Victorian...

(The entire section is 8858 words.)

Susan Phinney Conrad (essay date 1976

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Women's History and Feminist Thought: Romantic Discoveries and Transformations," in Perish the Thought: Intellectual Women in Romantic America, 1830-1860, Oxford University Press, 1976, pp. 93-133.

[In the following excerpt, Conrad argues that Child's writings on women 's history did not champion prototypical feminist causes but did create "a usable past" in which readers could discover "the great varieties of female experience."]

In contrast to the almost linear progression of American feminism's social origins, those of women's history were as diverse as the interests, temperaments, and talents of individual women who wrote about it. Like many feminists,...

(The entire section is 5018 words.)

Edward P. Crapol (essay date 1987)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Lydia Maria Child: Abolitionist Critic of American Foreign Policy," in Women and American Foreign Policy, Greenwood Press, 1987, pp. 1-18.

[In the essay that follows, which was originally published in 1987, Crapol examines Child's life and writingsespecially her abolitionist An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans—in order to demonstrate her complex and influential views on American foreign policy.]

One of the pioneer female critics of American diplomacy was the nineteenth century abolitionist Lydia Maria Child. Born in Medford, Massachusetts, in 1802, she was the youngest of the six children of David Convers Francis, a...

(The entire section is 8930 words.)

Bruce Mills (essay date 1994)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "A Reading History: 'Hobomok' and Its Audience," in Cultural Transformations: Lydia Maria Child and the Literature of Reform, The University of Georgia Press, 1994, pp. 11-29.

[In the following essay, Mills focuses on Hobomok, exploring the tensions in the novel over race relations and colonialism in America.]

When Lydia Maria Child produced her first novel Hobomok in 1824, she was especially conscious of the prevailing literary tastes and social views held by men who stood prominently behind the pulpits, podiums, and desks of such key religious, academic, and literary institutions as the Unitarian church, Harvard College, the North American...

(The entire section is 8294 words.)

Carolyn L. Karcher (essay date 1994)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "'The Juvenile Miscellany': The Creation of American Children's Literature," in The First Woman in the Republic: A Cultural Biography of Lydia Maria Child, Duke University Press, 1994, pp. 57-79.

[With The First Woman in the Republic, Karcher published the first extensive analytical biography of Child. In the following chapter from this work, Karcher documents the cultural position of Child's Juvenile Miscellany, including its appeal to both young and adult readers and the cultural currents that shaped the periodical's direction.]

"I know what that shout means among the children, " said Miss Amy; "the Miscellany has come....

(The entire section is 14948 words.)