The Remarkable Mrs. Ripley: The Life of Sarah Alden Bradford Ripley

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UPNE, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 399 pages
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A contemporary of Emerson, Hawthorne, the Alcotts, and other New England Renaissance figures, Sarah Alden Bradford Ripley (1793–1867) is largely unknown to today’s readers. Although she left no published works, Sarah is frequently mentioned in letters and journals written by her fellow intellectuals. She was a self-educated classical scholar who was well versed in languages and the sciences, ran a boarding school with her Unitarian minister husband to prepare boys for Harvard College, and raised seven children. Legend has it that she simultaneously rocked a cradle, shelled peas, heard one boy recite his Latin and another, his Greek.

In this first biography of the remarkable Mrs. Ripley, Joan W. Goodwin draws on Sarah’s letters and the writings of her contemporaries to paint as full a picture as possible of a compelling figure known until now only as a literary footnote. Goodwin reveals the inner drama of a woman’s lonely struggle to reconcile the liberal Christian worldview with her own increasing skepticism, and her traditional domestic role with the pursuit of intellectual attainments. The author’s skillful presentation of primary materials allows Sarah to speak to the reader in her own voice, particularly through her correspondence with Mary Moody Emerson and Abigail Allyn Francis, lending insight into the anguish that shaped much of her life.

In a biography as distinctive as the celebrated woman it depicts, the author re-creates the life and times of Mrs. Ripley and rescues an overlooked New Englander from obscurity. This is a captivating story that will appeal to historians and general readers alike.

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THE REMARKABLE MRS. RIPLEY: The Life of Sarah Alden Bradford Ripley

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A well-meaning biography, mired in detail. Goodwin, an independent scholar formerly with with the Unitarian Universalist Association, may win the prize for laboring longest on a biography: 40-plus ... Read full review

The Remarkable Mrs. Ripley: The Life of Sarah Alden Bradford Ripley

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

This is the first book-length biography of Sarah Ripley (1793-1867), a resident of Concord and acquaintance of Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and other figures of the New England Renaissance. A ... Read full review


Portrait of Sarah Alden Ripley by Ransom 1826 frontispiece
God made the country and man made the town
The Captain Gamaliel Bradford house in Duxbury
An acquaintance with a Miss Emerson
On the very eve of engaging myself
A country clergymans wife
The Samuel Ripley house in Waltham
The sun shines bright and the grass looks green
At last a home
The Old Manse Concord
Samuel Ripley
One of the most remarkable persons in Concord
Portrait of Sarah Alden Ripley 1857
The bright sunset
There are no limits to love

For what exalted purpose?
Mrs Ripleys skepticism
Her spherewhich is not very narrow
The affections spread out in rays

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About the author (1998)

JOAN W. GOODWIN (1926–2006) was an independent scholar who worked for several years for the Unitarian Universalist Association.

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