Margaret Fuller

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Margaret Fuller (1810-1850).

Born in Cambridgeport and rigorously educated from an early age, Margaret Fuller sought to become a journalist and translator. Before her writing career, she taught for a year at Bronson Alcott’s Temple School and held her famous “Conversations,” forums created for women to discuss philosophy, morality, and social justice. Chosen by Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1839 to edit The Dial, Fuller became the first woman editor of an important literary magazine. She left in 1842 to pursue her writing. Her reviews appeared in the New York Tribune from 1844-1846 and helped shape the way that Americans read literature.


The Dial (Boston: 1840).

From 1840 to 1842, Fuller wrote and edited 35 articles for the magazine without pay. Her piece, “A Short Essay on Critics,” was one of the first essays published in an American journal that outlined a critic’s responsibilities.


Summer on the Lakes (Boston: 1844).

In 1843, Margaret Fuller took a trip to the Great Lakes region with her friends, Sarah Ann and James Freeman Clarke. She wrote Summer on the Lakes, her first book, as a reflection on this trip in Gore Hall, the building in which Harvard University’s library was located. She was the first woman to use the library.


Woman in the 19th Century (New York: 1845).

The evolution of Woman in the 19th Century can be traced back to 1839 when Fuller began her “Conversations,” all-female forums during which she encouraged women to discuss the “great questions” that faced their sex.


A.N.S. to William Henry Channing (November 17, 1844).

For Fuller, completing Women in the 19th Century was as much a physical joy as it was an intellectual one. She writes:

I have finished the pamphlet. The last day it kept spinning out beneath my hand. After taking a long walk early on one of the most noble exhilarating sort of  mornings I sat down to write & did not quit the last stroke till near nine in the evening when I felt a delightful glow as if I had put a good deal of my true life in it. So if, suppose I went away now, the measure of my foot-print would be left on the earth.



A.N.S. (copy) to William Henry Channing (no date).

Fuller covered the Italian revolution for the New York Tribune and it was in Italy that she met Marquis Giovanni Angelo Ossoli, the man who changed her life:

My love for Ossoli is most pure and tender, nor has any one, except little children or mother, ever loved me as genuinely as he does… have loved me with a mixture of fancy and enthusiasm excited by my talent at embellishing subjects. He loves me from simple affinity; he loves to be with me and serve and sooth me. Our relation covers only a part of my life, but I do not perceive that it interferes with anything I ought to have or be…