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MARGARET FULLER: A New American Life ~Megan Marshall

MARGARET FULLER is an American Heroine.  Born in Massachusetts in 1810, she was a woman very much ahead of her time.   She is the first born of 9 children (2 died in infancy)  and her father, a politician and lawyer, was determined that she know how to think and analyze information and the world.  He home schooled Margaret and taught her to read several languages and Greek Mythology, until he felt she needed a finishing school to make a good marriage.  He did his teaching and drills from Washington DC with no cell phone or computer – only massive amounts of study and letters!

Margaret Fuller was considered plain and brilliant, a genius, and her conversations were deep and intelligent. She was not afraid to express her opinion and ideas and the write dissertations from her study and discussions.   When her father died she was just 18 she took over the care of her younger siblings, and teaching them.  She taught school and was a governess and had a number of male friends over the years in which she could debate and draw conclusions; projecting future outcomes.

One of her early writing jobs was as editor of THE DIAL a famous magazine of the intellectual elite.  She wrote a great many of the articles for the magazine and edited the work of Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and other famous intellectuals of the Enlightenment Period in New England.  As the reigning intellectual of the day Emerson was often out- shined by Fuller.  She was too poor to have made a trip to Europe for study, although she got there by being the first foreign correspondent for the New York – Tribune, Horace Greeley’s newspaper.   She covered the 1840’s revolutions in Europe and in Rome.  The list of her acquaintances looks like a “Who’s – Who” of the European literary elite.

I related to MARGARET FULLER and found the book very difficult to put down.  I often read until my eyes were tried and the print seemed too small to find focus.  She was considered odd in her community because of her intellect.  She was often lonely and wanted for someone to talk with and debate her ideas.   The men seemed stuck in their pursuits and generation of new concepts; too bound in their ideas and so she, being in need of financially supporting her family, began discussion groups of women called THE CONVERSATIONS and she took the groups of women through the steps necessary to think and discuss and produce great thoughts on their own.    She rendered change through education. I too often hunger for great conversation and discussion, and since the passing of my father, I have met few people who would like to join me – especially men.

As a front page editorial writer for the Tribune, Fuller went to the prisons and shared the stories of that experience, the plight of the urban poor, and the prostitutes of the city.  Her articles were well received and brilliantly written.   When in Rome covering the Siege in 1849, she found a young man who cared for her; she married and gave birth to a son.

When her child was two years old and Margaret Fuller was just turned 40, she packed up her family and headed home.  The ship ran aground in a brutal storm, and all three were drowned.  “ Her life’s work was eclipsed by tragedy and scandal.”

tlc logoOnce again I am grateful for TLC online books tours and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishers for sending this book to me for review.  For some reason I did not know about MARGARET FULLER and that is rather amazing because  Emerson, Thoreau, and the Alcott family of the Enlightenment period in New England figured prominently in my Thesis research and writing.  This is a well-researched biography of an important woman in the history of the USA and development of women’s rights.  I want to share this book with my three daughters and all the women that I know.

There is a giveaway from the publishers for this book for a great comment.  Do you like to read historic biography?  Do you believe this heroine might speak to you in the present tense?

Megan Marshall, a detailed and gifted writer, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for her book – The Peabody Sisters – and she teaches at Emerson College.  I believe folks will enjoy reading MARGARET FULLER.

If you purchase anything from Amazon   or Powell’s   from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.  Donations also welcomed.

Related Reading You might also enjoy:
Dualism I 
Hannah Coulter
The Paper Garden
Confessions of Joan The Tall

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14 Responses to “MARGARET FULLER: A New American Life ~Megan Marshall”

  1. Talon Says:

    I love how her father was determined she be well-rounded in her education, but I had to smile at him wanting her to “make” a good marriage… Of course, that was the norm then, but the irony just strikes me. How sad that she was lonely in her intellect…

    Patricia Reply:

    It is a powerful read and I am hoping all three of my daughter’s will explore this book. Well written.

    Her father was almost abusive in his demands of her intellect as a child, and that too was okay back then. She was incredibly strong because she understood so much –

    It was an amazing read, I highly recommend.
    Patricia recently posted..MARGARET FULLER: A New American Life ~Megan MarshallMy Profile

  2. Deborah Barker Says:

    I think I will have to investigate this book further Patricia, you have aroused my curiosity. Today, I have been trying to find out more about my own Great Aunt Grace, who was one of the first women lawyers in the UK in the nineteen twenties apparently. I was really doing this for my youngest son who is studying law. I Knew he’d be interested in the family history. Reading about how hard it was for women to be accepted in this profession has given me a new respect for her and the women of that time. I know her family were also lawyers so I assume she had the full support of her father and brothers but who knows? I remember her well but by the time I was born she was already 76 years old. I enjoyed your review Patricia, thank you. Debbie X
    Deborah Barker recently posted..Impressing the boysMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    This is a well written history and I really thought it was worthwhile and want my daughter’s to read it.

    I can identify with being very intelligent and smart and having no one to talk to and then all the put downs and gossip that went on and yet Margaret Fuller is to be admired because she just kept going and going and going…until the ship ran aground. I think she was lucky not to have twitter and social media bullying – it was just her peers and “friends” that shut her down…1800s
    Intelligent and and eventually working – what a lethal combination, but then she married a nobody and had a child…What was wrong with her – must be the uterus and hormones?
    Patricia recently posted..MARGARET FULLER: A New American Life ~Megan MarshallMy Profile

  3. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    Patricia – Like Talon, I appreciate that her father was determined she be well-rounded in her education. Like Deborah, I’ve added this book to my reading list.
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted..Woody Woodpecker Heralds SpringMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    I very much resonated with this book it is an exceptional read

  4. Alien Ghost Says:

    Hi Patricia,

    At the beginning of the eighteen hundreds women didn’t have many rights, and as pointed, perhaps they were expected to prepare for marriage mostly, so it is very interesting to learn that the fight for equal rights among men and women had some men involved. At least that’s what it seems to me when learning that Margaret Fuller’s father was “determined that she know how to think and analyze information and the world”, even though he also wanted her to prepare for marriage, but I prefer to think of that as his interest in her daughter to also “fit” in society of the times.

    When it comes to have intelligent conversations, I would say it is very difficult for anyone since nowadays to find someone (man or woman indiscriminately) interested in discussing other that what’s popular at the moment is very rare.

    It is sad that such brilliant people are lost due to tragic events as it happened to her.

    Alien Ghost recently posted..Empty WorldMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    I so enjoyed the depth of this book and how it made New England’s history come alive. Yes we all who enjoy deep thoughtful discussions are experiencing a lack these days. Because this book is 400 pages my book groups will not take it on. This life could not be shared in so few words as a. 500 word post.

    I m going to give a copy to my daughters. What a great read about a great life

  5. Sara Says:

    Patricia — I almost made a big boo-boo. I read the last part about her marrying and having a child, only to lose all in the shipwreck. My immediate reaction was “Oh, that’s so tragic.” Not that it wasn’t, but the story you told of her life prior to her death shouldn’t be lost to the tragic ending.

    For your review told a much more complete story of a woman who had a very full life, especially for a woman of her generation. She found ways to express her intelligence and share ideas most women would shrink from.

    You did an excellent job of making me see Margaret Fuller for her life and not for her death.

    Another excellent book review, Patricia:~)
    Sara recently posted..The Wisdom of the HoneysuckleMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:


    Thank you for your good words about my write up – I so identified with this woman even in this day and again and I am sorry I did not know about her sooner. This was a fabulous book and read
    I have given copies to my daughters because I think they need to know about this part of history too…and a wise woman
    Patricia recently posted..HALF AS HAPPY: STORIES ~Gregory Spatz (unedited)My Profile

  6. Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours Says:

    Wow, she certainly sounds like a woman ahead of her time. I’m sorry that I haven’t known about her before this.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

    Patricia Reply:

    Heather J
    Very happy I know her now – what a book
    Patricia recently posted..HALF AS HAPPY: STORIES ~Gregory Spatz (unedited)My Profile

  7. Suko Says:

    Terrific review, Patricia! I’m glad you found this as absorbing as I did. While our reviews are very different, it sound as if we both “discovered” a great pioneer.

    (P.S. I already have this book, so I don’t need another copy. :))

    patricia Reply:

    Yes I think we both discovered a great pioneer. Isn’t it nice to know we both have a copy of this book and were lucky enough to have the opportunity to read it .

    Thank you so much for coming by and commenting.

    A great book/read