Sarah Margaret Fuller: Contribution as American Journalist

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      Sarah Margaret Fuller (1810-1850), an outstanding essayist, was born and raised in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts. She became a leading figure in ‘transcendentalism’ and the Brook Farm experiment. She served as an assistant to Branson Alcott and remained a friend of Emerson. She is also considered as early feminist. From a modest financial background, she was educated at home by her father (women were not allowed to attend Harvard) and became a child prodigy in the classics and modern literatures. Her special passion was German Romantic literature, especially Goethe, whom she translated. The first professional woman journalist of note in America, Fuller wrote influential book reviews and reports on social issues such as the treatment of women prisoners and the insane. Some of these essays were published in her popular book Papers on Literature and Art (1846). A year earlier, she had her most significant book, ‘Woman in the Nineteenth Century’. It originally had appeared in the Transcendentalist magazine, The Dial, which she edited from 1840 to 1842. She became a literary critic of Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune by which in 1846 she was sent to Europe. While in Italy she married the Marquis Angelo Ossoli and she was the inspiration for Zenobia in Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance and the heroine of Holmes Elsie Vennes:

      Fuller’s image of the Woman in the 19th Century is the earliest and most American exploration of women’s role in society. Often applying democratic and ‘transcendental’ principles, Fuller thoughtfully analyzes the numerous subtle causes and evil consequences of sexual discrimination and suggests positive steps to be taken. Many of her social ideas very strikingly modern.

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