Margaret Fuller Additional Biography

Biography

ph_0111205116-Fuller_M.jpg Margaret Fuller Published by Salem Press, Inc.

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.

Following her successful and rigorous editorship of The Dial (she sent rejection notices to Henry David Thoreau, among others), she took a tour of Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and New York during the summer of 1843. Her experience led to her first book, Summer on the Lake, in 1843, ostensibly a travel book, in which she records her impressions and inner responses to the countryside. She describes the Midwest in idyllic pastoral terms, and sometimes, as when she encounters Niagara Falls, registers moments of sublimity. Her descriptions of forests, lakes, and prairies, usually viewed through the lens of literary and classical allusions, are richly suggestive. She also hints at a growing...

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Biography

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature, Critical Edition)

Author Profile

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...

(The entire section is 853 words.)

Bibliography

Allen, Margaret Vanderhaar. The Achievement of Margaret Fuller. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1979. Vanderhaar explores the range of Fuller’s intellectual and professional accomplishments. Also shows the importance of two major influences, in chapters on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Blanchard, Paula. Margaret Fuller: From Transcendentalism to Revolution. New York: Delacorte Press/S. Lawrence, 1978. This extensive biography aims to correct the misconceptions about the Fuller “myth” by providing a fair, realistic, and historically factual view of her. Blanchard covers both...

(The entire section is 739 words.)