Women and 19th Century Literature

If a person knows how to write, they will write something. A shopping list, letter, journal, recipe, book, novel, thesis paper. Through the centuries, women had written, but they didn’t always receive much attention or much help from publishers. In mid-19th Century America, a change started to occur in attitudes toward women, writing, and publishing. Against this backdrop, fictional character Susan Rose Arnold scribbles poetry, wonders if someday it could be published, and meets a woman who regularly writes for publications.

“Miss Shermann,” I said as I guided her up to her room after the evening meal, “what do you write? If you don’t mind my question.” She had perfect manners and the most fascinating way of controlling the conversation at the table, without seeming to be in charge.

“It depends,” she replied, smiling. “Sometimes short stories. Sometimes information about travel or the impracticality of these beautiful ladies’ fashions. Anything I can sell to a newspaper or magazine.” (Lighthouse Loyalty, Chapter 18)

Today, we’ll highlight some mid-19th Century female authors and the changing world of publishing.  Continue reading

Harriet Beecher Stowe: Unwilling To Stay Silent

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Every writer has a goal, a motive, and/or an agenda, but sometimes an author’s ideas shine through their work with particular clarity. The American authoress featured in our discussion today was inspired by a great cause and her book played a large role in sparking the American Civil War.

Harriet Beecher Stowe was a writer with a mission: social reform, more specifically abolition. In the mid-19th Century, there were many reform movements- temperance, prison reform, abolition.  A lady’s place was the home, but women found positive ways to advocate for reform and the pen was a powerful weapon. Mrs. Stowe was in the ranks of quiet writers from home desks, but her book had strong influence on the American mind and gained world-wide fame. Continue reading