Catherine Maria Sedgwick
Catherine Maria Sedgwick always maintained that she became a writer by accident. Her first novel, A New-England Tale (1822), resulted from a pamphlet that she wrote when she converted from Calvinism to Unitarianism. Born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts to a long-line of prominent New Englanders, the well-educated Sedgwick taught at a school and became a prolific writer. Hope Leslie (1827), her most famous novel, is a historical romance set in 1643. Its heroine, Hope Leslie, fights for the rights of Native Americans and rebels against a repressive Puritan society. The progressive themes of interracial marriage and cross-cultural friendship told against the backdrop of the Pequot War makes Hope Leslie one of the first uniquely American novels.