Julia Ward Howe

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Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910).

Despite being raised in a strict Calvinist home in which women’s education was not considered important, Julia Ward Howe was educated until she was 16. By age 14, she had published some of her poetry in The American magazine. Howe’s marriage to Samuel Gridley Howe was restrictive, but through maintaining friendships with Theodore Parker and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow she began writing poetry again. Passion-Flowers, her first and most successful book of poetry, was published anonymously in 1853. During a trip to Washington, Howe was encouraged to write lyrics for the music of “John Brown’s Body” and the result became “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Howe first visited Boston in 1841 and lived there for the rest of her life. 


A.M.S. (copy) of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" (1901).

Howe presented this copy of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” to the Boston Public Library through John Elliot in 1901.


Passion-Flowers (Boston: 1854).

Written without her husband’s knowledge, this book of poetry exposed the problems Howe experienced in her personal life.


A.L.S. to Rufus Griswold (South Boston: no date).

Howe was a woman who assumed many titles: abolitionist, poet, and suffragette. Despite her many roles, she still took great pride in her appearance. In this letter, Stowe responds to Rufus Griswold’s desire to include her portrait in his book, Female Poets of America:

I regret to say that there is no portrait of me sufficiently characteristic for the purpose suggested by you, nor can I supply this deficiency by a daguerreotype, as mine is a face which cannot be well rendered by this process. I have tried more than once, but have never succeeded in getting a good daguerreotype of myself.


A.L.S. to Gertrude; Institute for the Blind (South Boston: May 2, 1886).

In March of 1886, Julia Anagnos, Howe’s daughter, died quietly of an illness while holding the hands of her mother and her husband. Expressing her grief, Howe writes:

…May you never know the pain of losing one of you own who has grown up to be your loving and faithful companion. I used to think that it would be hard for her to see me depart from this world, but I never for a moment had thought that I could lose her.