Sarah Hale was born in Newport, New Hampshire, the daughter of Captain Gordon Buell, a revolutionary soldier, and Martha Whittlesey. Hale was educated by her mother and learned Latin and philosophy from her brother who studied at Dartmouth. In 1813, she married Daniel Hale; the Hales had five children before Daniel died in 1822, leaving the family with little to live on. In order to provide for herself and her children, Hale began to write. After publishing a volume of poetry and a novel, she was offered the editorship of a monthly periodical for women, to be established in Boston. She edited the Ladies' Magazine, which was later renamed the Ladies' Book. She contributed heavily to these periodicals and also published thirty-six books. Hale was involved in many organizations, including societies to send women overseas in medical and missionary service.13
Hale's most ambitious undertaking was Woman's Record: or, Sketches of All Distinguished Women From the Beginning Till A.D. 1850. This project was one of many attempts by nineteenth-century women to recover the history of women who had been overshadowed or forgotten in histories written by men. For Hale, history began with the Bible, so she included many biblical women in her biographical dictionary of women. In her entry on Rebekah, Hale elevated Rebekah and called her morally superior to her husband, thus contradicting male commentators who censured Rebekah's deception of Isaac. Hale claimed that the Bible did not condemn Rebekah so neither should her readers.
From Sarah Hale, Woman's Record; or, Sketches of all Distinguished
Women, from the Creation to A.D. 1854 (New York: Harper & Brothers,
Daughter of Bethuel, and wife of Isaac the patriarch, is one of the most interesting female characters the Bible exhibits for the example and instruction of her sex. Her betrothal and marriage are graphic pictures of the simple
13 "Hale, Sarah Josepha (Buell)," American Authors 1600–1900: A Biographical Dictionary
of American Literature, ed. Stanley J. Kunitz and Howard Haycroft (New York: The H. W.
Wilson Co., 1938), 326.
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Publication information: Book title: Let Her Speak for Herself: Nineteenth-Century Women Writing on the Women of Genesis. Contributors: Marion Ann Taylor - Editor, Heather E. Weir - Editor. Publisher: Baylor University Press. Place of publication: Waco, TX. Publication year: 2006. Page number: 283.
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