Into the Mouths of Babes: An Anthology of Children's Abolitionist Literature

By Deborah C. De Rosa | Go to book overview

AUNT MARY
(PSEUDONYM. BIOGRAPHY AND DATES UNKNOWN)

In The Edinburgh Doll and Other Tales for Children (1853; text reprinted here represents 1854 Jewett edition), Aunt Mary overtly challenges Stowe’s story of Little Eva; however, Aunt Mary’s life story remains an enigma. Archival research suggests that the Aunt Mary pseudonym may belong to a Mrs. Hughs, the author of Aunt Mary’s Tales for the Entertainment and Improvement of Little Girls, Addressed to Her Nieces (1817), Aunt Mary’s Stories for Children Chiefly Confined to Words of Two Syllables (1823), Aunt Mar/s Stories for Children (1850), Aunt Mary’s Multiplication (1850–1859?) and several other children’s books published in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. However, attributing Aunt Mary’s The Edinburgh Doll and Other Tales for Children (1853) to Mrs. Hughs would be a conjecture because of the inability to confirm a definitive “Mrs. Hughs”; the geographic and chronological variance in publication history for “Mrs. Hughs”; and the possibility of other women using “Aunt Mary” as a pseudonym. Consequently, we can only speculate about the domestic abolitionist who protected her identity when she submitted The Edinburgh Doll and Other Tales for Children to John P. Jewett, to publish from his Boston and Ohio offices.

The Edinburgh Doll1 encourages children, especially girls, to celebrate abolitionism. In this narrative poem, Mary and her doll embody heroic nonconformists who participate in a public forum to advance abolitionism. As a first-person narrator, the doll recalls her journey from Scotia to the antislavery fair and auction at Boston’s Horticultural Hall. The doll offers young readers a glimpse into the international and national efforts to use antislavery fairs as a means to abolish American slavery. She also documents the range of products, such as needlework, “books [specifically Uncle Tom’s Cabin], portraits, puzzles, medals, games” (see line 25) and

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