Susan Belasco Smith
Sarah Margaret Fuller was born in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, on May 23, 1810, to Timothy Fuller, a Harvard-educated lawyer who served in the Massachusetts state legislature and the United States Congress, and Margarett [sic] Crane Fuller, who taught school briefly in her hometown of Canton, Massachusetts, before her marriage. Raised in a household that stressed middle-class New England values as well as Unitarian rationalism, Margaret Fuller was educated carefully and rather unusually for a young woman of her time. Her father served as her teacher in her early years, and Fuller was reading Latin at age six. Located between Harvard College and the bridge to Boston, Cambridgeport was a neighborhood of academics and young professionals, and the Fullers mixed easily with both. When her father's career was too demanding for him to continue his work on her education, Fuller was tutored by members of the college, and in 1823-1825, she attended schools in Boston, Cambridgeport, and finally the Young Ladies Seminary of Groton. Her letters from her childhood and years at school reveal a high degree of conscientiousness and absorption in her studies, as well as some anxiety about pleasing her father, who could be sternly disapproving.
When Fuller returned home from school to Boston in 1825, she possessed a preparatory education that would have been the envy of a bright young man. But as a woman, Fuller could not go on to Harvard, and instead, she stayed at home and embarked on her study of Italian and German literature, interests that remained with her throughout her life. She was especially engaged by Petrarch, by Dante, and by Germaine de Staël, whose Corinne became a favorite of hers. In addition, she was part of the social and intellectual world of Harvard and