MARGARET FULLER by Megan Marshall


A New American Life
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A deeply sympathetic life of an exceptional mind, protofeminist and revolutionary.

Embedded in the Emersonian milieu as biographer (The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism, 2005) and professor (Emerson Coll.), Pulitzer finalist Marshall is perfectly suited to her material, so much so that she frequently takes on the highhanded, emotive tone of her subject. Margaret Fuller (1810–1850) was the close colleague of Ralph Waldo Emerson, fellow editor of the transcendentalist journal The Dial, teacher and author of the groundbreaking feminist study Woman in the Nineteenth Century. The oldest daughter of a tyrannical lawyer and congressman in Massachusetts, Fuller demonstrated early on her abundant intellectual gifts. However, instead of attending Harvard, she had to sublimate her “unfocused striving and rankling frustration over family obligations” and teach her smaller siblings. When her father died in 1835, it fell on Fuller to take care of her mother and siblings, as a teacher and fledgling writer, yet his death also freed her to pursue her personal journey. Initiated into reformist ideas while teaching at Bronson Alcott’s Temple School and plunged into Emerson's circle, Fuller moved from Providence to Boston to New York, working on translations, leading a series of conversation classes with women and assuming editorship of the transcendentalist organ, before restlessly moving on to Horace Greeley’s New-York Tribune. Marshall’s discovery of a late-life journal reveals Fuller’s last beatific years in Rome as a correspondent, when she met the younger Giovanni Angelo Ossoli during the perilous revolutionary era of 1848. Bound home with their young son, the family perished together in the wreck of the Elizabeth off the coast of Fire Island in 1850. Friend of intellectual lights of the day, cultural emissary and author in her own right, Fuller had finally attained her own destiny.

Lively, intuitive study of a remarkable American character.

Pub Date: March 12th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-547-19560-5
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2013


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