Sarah Josepha Hale Criticism - Essay

Sarah Josepha Buell

Ruth E. Finley (essay date 1931)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Chapter XVI: A Female Writer" in The Lady of Godey's: Sarah Josepha Hale, J. B. Lippincott Company, 1931, pp. 263-78.

[In the following excerpt, Finley surveys Hale's writings, discussing her style, her attitudes, and her subject matter.]

Of the many poems written by Sarah Hale only a few are remembered. These few, however, have become part and parcel of American ballad tradition, so much so that scarcely any one ever asks the name of the author. What modern stops to wonder who wrote "If Ever I See," "Our Father in Heaven," "It Snows," "Mary Had a Little Lamb"?—even though for the past few years the authorship of the last named verses has been figuring...

(The entire section is 4653 words.)

Ruth E. Finley (essay date 1931)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Chapter XVII: Mary's Lamb and Mr. Ford" in The Lady of Godey 's: Sarah Josepha Hale, J. B. Lippincott Company, 1931, pp. 279-305.

[In the following excerpt, Finley discusses the controversy surrounding Hale's authorship of the poem "Mary Had a Little Lamb."]

"Mary Had a Little Lamb," the most famous children's poem in the English language, was first printed in 1830. It was signed by Sarah Hale. Now Mrs. Hale's authorship of the first half of the poem has been challenged by Mr. Henry Ford, who has given credence to an old claim first made public in the late eighteen-seventies by a Mrs. Mary Sawyer Tyler. Mrs. Tyler asserted that she was the "Mary" of the poem,...

(The entire section is 8543 words.)

William R. Taylor (essay date 1961)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Point Counterpoint" in Cavalier and Yankee: The Old South and American National Character, George Braziller, 1961, pp. 122-41.

[In the following excerpt, Taylor discusses Hale's views regarding the ideal American character and the contrast between North and South as exhibited in her short stories and her novel Northwood.]

The Yankee Ethos in Limbo

The very fact of the novel [Northwood] is a puzzle. What had made a busy and hard-pressed widow living in a small provincial town sit down in the winter of 1826 and fill page after page with the story of Sidney Romilly? Why should she have concerned herself, as she did, with the South?...

(The entire section is 7193 words.)

Nina Baym (essay date 1990)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Onward Christian Women: Sarah J. Hale's History of the World." New England Quarterly, Vol. 63, No. 2, June, 1990, pp. 249-70.

[In the following excerpt, Baym discusses Hale's views on the moral superiority of women as expressed in Woman's Record.]

We know Sarah J. Hale as the editor, for almost half a century (1837-77), of Godey's Lady's Book. In that position she exercised considerable power (or, to use a word she would have preferred, influence) over emergent middle-class culture in the United States.1 Dedicated above all to the cause of women's education, Hale approached social issues with strongly expressed convictions that authorize the...

(The entire section is 7606 words.)

Barbara Bardes and Suzanne Gossett (essay date 1990)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Two Visions of the Republic" in Declarations of Independence: Women and Political Power in Nineteenth-Century American Fiction, Rutgers University Press, 1990, pp. 17-37.

[In the following excerpt, Bardes and Gossett note the importance of community and comment on the role of women in Hale's novel Northwood.]

Six years before Tocqueville makes similar observations on the status of American women, Squire Romelee, the voice of wisdom in Sarah Josepha Hale's Northwood, comments:

I presume you will not find, should you travel throughout the United States, scarcely a single female engaged in the labors of the field or any...

(The entire section is 4924 words.)

Nina Baym (essay date 1992)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Sarah Hale, Political Writer" in Feminism and American Literary History: Essays, Rutgers University Press, 1992, pp. 167-75.

[In the following excerpt, Baym discusses the political nature of Hale's writings and describes a shift she sees in them from an interest in general political issues to an emphasis on women's role in society.]

Sarah Josepha Hale, author of poems, stories, sketches, a play, novels, and several home reference books, is remembered chiefly for her lengthy tenure (1837-77) as editor of Godey's Lady's Book, the most widely read women's magazine of its day. Using her position year after year to advance the doctrine of separate spheres...

(The entire section is 5098 words.)

Patricia Okker (essay date 1993)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Sarah Josepha Hale, Lydia Sigourney, and the Poetic Tradition in Two Nineteenth-Century Women's Magazines," American Periodicals: A Journal of History, Criticism, and Bibliography, Vol. 3, 1993, pp. 32-42.

[In the following excerpt, Okker examines Hale's views on women's poetry as reflected in her editing of Godey's Lady's Book and Ladies' Magazine.]

No doubt in part because of her authorship of "Mary Had a Little Lamb," Sarah Josepha Hale—editor first of the Ladies' Magazine and then for forty-one years of Godey's Lady's Book—is often described in the context of … [what Allison Bulsterbaum has called] "mawkish, moralistic poetry"...

(The entire section is 2102 words.)

Susan M. Ryan (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Errand into Africa: Colonization and Nation Building in Sarah J. Hale's Liberia," New England Quarterly, Vol. LXVIII, No. 4, December, 1995, pp. 558-83.

[In the following excerpt, Ryan discusses Hale's position, expressed in her novel Liberia, that the only way to solve the slavery problem was for the slaves to return to Africa.]

To many white Americans before the Civil War, the idea of "returning" free blacks and manumitted slaves to Africa sounded like the perfect solution to the United States' increasingly rancorous and violent racial problems. Generally thought a moderate position in its day—compared to radical abolitionist and pro-slavery...

(The entire section is 8127 words.)

Barbara A. Bardes and Suzanne Gossett (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Sarah J. Hale, Selective Promoter of Her Sex" in A Living of Words: American Women in Print Culture, edited by Susan Albertine, University of Tennessee Press, 1995, pp. 18-34.

[In the following excerpt, Bardes and Gossett explore Hale's views on women's roles, especially as reflected in her Woman's Record.]

Interpretations of Hale's life and career have varied widely, depending largely upon the period and upon the interpreter's attitude toward powerful women. Yet as we survey Hale's works, the most consistent element, the invariable factor whether one considers Hale radical or conventional in her activities, is her dedication to the promotion of her own sex....

(The entire section is 7180 words.)

Patricia Okker (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "From Intellectual Equality to Moral Difference: Hale's Conversion to Separate Spheres" in Our Sister Editors: Sarah J. Hale and the Tradition of Nineteenth-Century American Women Editors, University of Georgia Press, 1995, pp. 38-58.

[In the following excerpt, Okker discusses what she sees as a shift in Hale's writings from a belief in the Enlightenment notion of equality between the sexes to the Victorian notion of separate spheres of endeavor for men and women.]

Hale's writings during these early years [of her career] show little sign that she would eventually promote absolute notions of sexual difference and the idea of gendered separate spheres. Hale's...

(The entire section is 5914 words.)

Patricia Okker (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Professionalization of Authorship" in Our Sister Editors: Sarah J. Hale and the Tradition of Nineteenth-Century American Women Editors, University of Georgia Press, 1995, pp. 84-109.

[In the following excerpt, Okker examines Hale's views on writing, especially writing by women.]

Although Hale did contribute to the successful careers of writers like [Edgar Allan] Poe, [Lydia] Sigourney, and [Harriet Beecher] Stowe, she did not encourage all writers. In fact, she often used her editorial pages to discuss the difficulties associated with professional literary careers. While clearly discouraging to some would-be writers, Hale's editorials about authorship may...

(The entire section is 4398 words.)

Susan M. Griffin (essay date 1997)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "'The Dark Stranger': Sensationalism and Anti-Catholicism in Sarah Josepha Hale's Traits of American Life," Legacy, Vol. 14, No. 1, 1997, pp. 13-24.

[In the following excerpt. Griffin focuses on the Protestant-Catholic conflict in Hale's story "The Catholic Convert."]

In "The Romance of Travelling," one of the sketches collected in Sarah Josepha Hale's 1835 Traits of American Life, Hale focuses on Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire, as a typical American landscape, which "gives to the heart a sensation like that of suddenly meeting the smiling face of a friend" (195). Hale follows the landscape tradition of focussing on the reflective and imaginative qualities...

(The entire section is 6713 words.)