19th Century Women Authors

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  • Topic: Louisa May Alcott, Orchard House, Anna Alcott Pratt
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19th Century Women Authors

Some of the most influential women authors of all time lived in the 19th century. These women expressed their inner most thoughts and ideas through their writings. They helped to change society, perhaps without knowing it, through poetry, novels, and articles. Emily Dickinson, Harriet Jacobs, Kate Chopin, Louisa May Alcott, and Elizabeth Oakes Smith are the best-known controversial and expressive women authors of their time. On December 10, 1830 a poet was born. When Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, no one knew that she was to become the most well known woman poet of all time. She loved her family deeply. Her father was a man of great reverence in Amherst and her mother was an invalid all of Emily's life. Dickinson had great admiration for her brother Austin. He married a woman named Susan.

Susan and Emily became very close. So close, in fact, that it was rumored that they were lovers. She wrote love letters and poems to Susan. Some scholars believe that there is an indication of homosexuality found in many of Dickinson's poems. Emily never married, which did not help diminish the rumors. Another rumor affecting Emily related to her sanity. It is said that in her later years Dickinson refused to leave her house. When company would come to the door she would run upstairs to avoid them. She only totally secluded herself from adults. She made gingerbread for the neighborhood children and played games with them occasionally.

No matter what rumors circulated there is no doubt that Emily Dickinson is a wonderful poet. There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there.
She expressed her feelings for the loss of her mother, father, and close friends in her poetry. She refused to believe that Heaven was a better place than Earth and she showed her love of nature in some of her poems. She found nature superior to society and preferred it. None of Dickinson's poems had titles. Many thought this was because she did not want them published. Many of her poems are dark and mysterious but all are true works of art.

Emily Dickinson died peacefully on May 15, 1886. Only ten of Emily's poems were published in her lifetime. After her death over 1700 of her poems were discovered. She had bound them into several booklets. In 1890 and 1891 some of her poems were published. They received a great response but no more were published until 1955. A sepal, petal, and a thorn--

Upon a common summers morn--
A flask of dew-- A bee or two--
A breeze-- a caper in the trees--
And I am a rose!
Dickinson's poems are timeless and will always leave one bewildered and amazed.
Harriet Jacobs was born in North Carolina in the early 1800s. Jacobs never realized she was a slave until her mother died when she was six. Jacobs then moved in with her grandmother and her white mistress. The mistress died when Jacobs was eleven, and she was then sent to Dr. James Norcom. Jacobs suffered physical and sexual abuse from Dr. Norcom for numerous years, and she became involved with a white neighbor, Samuel Sawyer, simply so she could stay away from Norcom. They had two children together, Joseph and Louisa. Joseph was born when Jacobs was only sixteen years old. In 1835, Jacobs escaped from Norcom and went into hiding for seven years. In an attempt to get Norcom to sell her children, Jacobs wrote numerous letters to him, mentioning that she had escaped to the North. She thought Norcom would sell her children if he thought she wasn't coming back, but that never happened. In 1842, Jacobs made her escape to the North and managed to have her daughter, Louisa, sent to Brooklyn to be with her. They then moved to Rochester to escape Norcom, who was looking for her, and joined a circle of abolitionists that worked for Fredrick Douglass's newspaper, The North Star. In 1853, her employer bought her from Norcom's family, thus releasing...
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