Domesticity with a Difference: The Nonfiction of Catharine Beecher, Sarah J. Hale, Fanny Fern, and Margaret Fuller

By Nicole Tonkovich | Go to book overview

Notes
Introduction: Eccentric Domesticity
1. Armstrong studies this connection in British fiction. Gillian Brown studies the political/philosophical interplay between American individualism and domestic privacy, while Gossett and Bardes analyze the political agendas of fiction written by women in the nineteenth- century United States.
2. By professional, I mean two things: each of these women earned enough money by writing to be self-supporting, and each identified herself as an author. I make this distinction in contrast to earlier studies by Douglas and Kelley. In Douglas's tabular identification of writing women, she writes that she has "listed 'housewife' as an occupation for any woman, married or unmarried, who devoted significant time and energy to the management of a home" (403). But Hale and Beecher, especially in later life, either lived with relatives or in boardinghouses and took special care not to be burdened with household tasks. Fern also employed domestics, as did the Fuller family. As an adult, Fuller boarded with others and traveled broadly. The point that "management" is not the same as "housewife" is centrally related to the prolific written output of these four women.
Chapter One. Her Father's Best Boy: Catharine Beecher and Margaret Fuller
1. I use this attribution intentionally, since " Lyman Beecher's family" included the children born to three wives.
2. Litchfield Law School, the first formal school of law in the United States, opened in 1784. Its students included Noah Webster, Aaron Burr, John C. Calhoun, Horace Mann, and George Catlin ( von Frank62, n. 19). See also Brickley, "Sarah" for more information about the Law School and other intellectual institutions of Litchfield (20).
Chapter Two. Fatherless Daughters: Sarah Josepha Hale and Fanny Fern
1. To my knowledge, no such diploma exists. Entrikin notes that Horatio Buell "appears to have been valedictorian of his class" at Dartmouth but does not repeat this story.
2. Welter uses a "survey" of Godey's as a major source in establishing the characteristics of the "Cult of True Womanhood"; Douglas calls Hale "determinedly moderate [and the] chief exponent of the doctrine of the feminine sphere" (54).
3. While studies such as Gere's, Martin's, and Tucker's see coeducational groups as an anomaly, the existence of the Coterie and the Semi-Colon Club implies that such groups were relatively common. Hale's group, which began meeting about 1815, directly contradicts Louis Tucker's explanation that women's participation in Cincinnati's Semi-Colon Club was owing to "the more liberal attitude prevailing in the West" (17). The Litchfield gatherings of

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