compliments were disingenuous. De Jong points out in "Her Fair Fame" that nineteenth-century critics, including Poe, held women poets to a different and more narrowly defined standard than they did male poets. Given the limitations of these strictures--the mandate to praise modesty, sincerity, virtue, etcetera-- much of Osgood's poetry is quite good. While usually adhering to the trappings of the "lady poet," she often rhetorically subverts them. It does not seem unlikely that Poe appreciated her ability to transcend the very conventions he helped reinforce for women's writing.
Poe was not the only contemporary of Osgood's who admired her work. Rufus Griswold, too, thought highly enough of her to write a long, complimentary sketch, "Frances Sargent Osgood," which he published several times in the late 1840s. While the basis of his judgment may seem dubious--he tries to smooth the more unconventional edges of Osgood's life and works to make her better fit the "poetess" mold--his admiration is genuine. Griswold's sketch appeared again in a memorial of Osgood edited by Mary Hewitt: Laurel Leaves: A Chaplet Woven by the Friends of the Late Mrs. Osgood. Comprising works by Hewitt, Sarah Helen Whitman, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, among others, the book stands as a testimony to the strength of Osgood's reputation among her contemporaries.
Ironically, the mutually promotional relationship between Osgood and Poe has continued to dominate Osgood's reputation since her death. As a consequence, Osgood's work has received little critical attention through the years except as it bears on her canonical literary ally. She has recently come to be included in anthologies and discussions of women writers, but to date, there is no critical edition of her work and no book-length biography. Frances Osgood's work and life clearly merit further and closer attention.
A Wreath of Wild Flowers from New England. London: Edward Churton, 1838.
The Casket of Fate. London: C. Whittingham, 1839.
F lower Gift, a Token of Friendship for All Seasons. Chambersburg, PA: Shryock, Reed & Co., 1840.
Puss in Boots and the Marquis of Carabas. New York: Benjamin & Young, 1844.
Cries of New York. New York: J. Doggett, Jr., 1846.
Poems. New York: Clark and Austin, 1846.
The Floral Offering, a Token of Friendship. Edited by Frances Sargent Locke Osgood. Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1847.
A Letter about the Lions. New York: Putnam, 1849.
Poems. Philadelphia: Carey & Hart, 1850.
The Poetry of Flowers and Flowers of Poetry. Edited by Frances Sargent Locke Osgood. New York: Derby & Jackson, 1859.
Osgood's Poetical Works. New York: Leavitt & Allen Brothers, 1880.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers:A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Contributors: Denise D. Knight - Editor. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 334.
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