Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook

By Denise D. Knight | Go to book overview

EMMA EMBURY
(1806-1863)

Janette M. Gomes


BIOGRAPHY

The first of Elizabeth Post and Dr. James R. Manley's three children, Emma Catherine Manley was born in 1806 in New York City, where she continued to reside for the fifty-seven years of her life. Despite her New York school education and the privileged status she enjoyed as the daughter of a prominent physician, Emma later wrote of the loneliness she experienced with the early development of her poetic talents, which she said were unappreciated by her family and friends ( Welter79). Nonetheless, by the age of twenty, Emma, writing under the pseudonym "Ianthe," was contributing verse to the New York Mirror and other periodicals.

Ianthe also began writing as "Emma C. Embury" following her marriage on May 10, 1828, to the president of the Atlantic Bank of Brooklyn, Daniel Embury. The couple established their household in Brooklyn, where Emma became the leader of a literary salon whose members included Edgar Allan Poe and Rufus W. Griswold. Daniel was praised by his contemporaries for being an intelligent man who supported his wife's literary endeavors, and Emma, who denied having a literary career, was lauded for not allowing her writing to interfere with her duties as a wife or as a mother to her three children.

The first collection of Embury verse, Guido, a Tale; Sketches from History and Other Poems, was published the same year that her wedding took place. Almost all of the pieces that appeared in Guido and subsequent volumes of Embury's poems, stories, and essays had been previously published in popular periodicals. During the 1830s and 1840s, Embury frequently contributed to The Knickerbocker Magazine, Sartain's Union Magazine, Godey's Lady's Book, TheLadies' Companion

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