May 23

This Day in History

Literary

May 23, 1810:

Margaret Fuller is born

Writer and editor Margaret Fuller, who inspired other Americans to devote themselves to learning, is born on this day.

Fuller was born in Massachusetts and grew up during the Transcendentalist movement. She taught in the Temple School, an educational institution founded by Transcendentalist Bronson Alcott, father of Louisa May Alcott. She later taught in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1839, she published a translation of an important book about the German writer Goethe. She wrote poetry, reviews, and essays for the Transcendentalist magazine The Dial and edited for the magazine from 1840 to 1842. She published an account of frontier life in the Midwest, called Summer on the Lakes in 1843 (1844), which captured the attention of New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley.

Greeley published Fuller's feminist pamphlet Women in the 19th Century (1845), which argued for emotional and intellectual fulfillment for women. Fuller began writing for the Tribune and became America's first female foreign correspondent when she sailed for Europe in 1846. Her letters were published in 1856 as At Home and Abroad. In 1847, she settled in Italy and married an Italian. In 1850, Fuller, her husband, and her infant son were all killed in a shipwreck off the coast of New York.

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