The Peabody Sisters: Three Women who Ignited American Romanticism

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 602 pages
5 Reviews
Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia Peabody were in many ways our American Brontes. The story of these remarkable sisters -- and their central role in shaping the thinking of their day — has never before been fully told. Twenty years in the making, Megan Marshall's monumental biograpy brings the era of creative ferment known as American Romanticism to new life. Elizabeth, the oldest sister, was a mind-on-fire thinker. A powerful influence on the great writers of the era — Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau among them — she also published some of their earliest works. It was Elizabeth who prodded these newly minted Transcendentalists away from Emerson's individualism and toward a greater connection to others. Mary was a determined and passionate reformer who finally found her soul mate in the great educator Horace Mann. The frail Sophia was a painter who won the admiration of the preeminent society artists of the day. She married Nathaniel Hawthorne — but not before Hawthorne threw the delicate dynamics among the sisters into disarray. Marshall focuses on the moment when the Peabody sisters made their indelible mark on history. Her unprecedented research into these lives uncovered thousands of letters never read before as well as other previously unmined original sources. The Peabody Sisters casts new light on a legendary American era. Its publication is destined to become an event in American biography.

This book is highly recommended for students and reading groups interested in American history, American literature, and women's studies. It is a wonderful look into 19th-century life.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ImperfectCJ - LibraryThing

Megan Marshall basically lived with the Peabody sisters while writing this book (as much as someone can live with a trio of sisters who've been dead for more than 100 years), and it shows in her ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - fromthecomfychair - LibraryThing

Megan Marshall created a page-turner about the lives of three 19th century sisters, and also filled this biography with so much fascinating information about life in the 19th century, Boston, Salem ... Read full review

Contents

Luly 91842
1
ORIGINS 17461803
13
2 Legacies
17
3 Seductions
28
4 Belinda
39
5 Flight into Union
48
THE FAMILY SCHOOL 18041820
59
7 Salem Girlhoods
64
SOPHIA 18291832
189
19 My Soul Steps Forth upon the Paper
201
2O First Retreat into Solitude
213
21 Scatteration
224
SOMERSET COURT AND LA RECOMPENSA 18331835
237
23 Blind Fair
257
24 Cuba Journals
271
BEFORE THE AGE IN SALEM 18361839
307

8 The Doctor and His Wife
82
9 Heretical Tendencies
88
IO Beginning to Live
94
ELIZABETH 18211824
103
12 Boston
118
13 Maine
133
MARY AND ELIZABETH 18251828
147
15 There Is No Scandal in Brookline
153
16 Life Is Too Interesting to Me Now
171
17 An Interior Revolution
179
26 Little Waldo Jones Very and the Divinity School Address
327
27 The Sister Years
349
13 WEST STREET BOSTON 18401842
379
29 Mr Ripleys Utopia
399
30 Two Funerals and a Wedding
422
MAY I 1843
441
Acknowledgments
455
Notes
459
Index
581
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Megan Marshall worked for two decades on her award-winning biography The Peabody Sisters, spending many years tracking down the sisters' letters and journals. Her work was supported by fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She has written for the New Yorker, the New York Times, Slate and other publications. She is now at work on a biography of Ebe Hawthorne, sister of Nathaniel, for which she has received a Radcliffe Institute fellowship.

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