Nancy A. Walker
Caroline Matilda Stansbury was born on January 11, 1801, in New York City. The eldest child of Eliza Alexander Stansbury and Samuel Stansbury, she became part of a family that prized literature and education. Her paternal grandfather, Joseph Stansbury, a Tory sympathizer during the Revolutionary War, wrote satiric poetry. Her mother was the author of both poetry and fiction, and her father's sister, Lydia Mott, ran a Quaker school that Caroline began attending at the age of eight. She took good advantage of educational opportunities unusual for young women in the early decades of the nineteenth century, learning to read French, Latin, and German as well as English literature--accomplishments that are evident in the many literary allusions in her own work. She was also receptive to the religious and moral teachings of Lydia Mott's Quaker philosophy, and by the early 1820s, she was teaching in a school her aunt owned in Clinton, New York. After Samuel Stansbury died in 1822, Caroline's mother moved the family to Clinton, where Caroline's income helped to support them.
While in Clinton, Caroline met William Kirkland, a young man with similar background and interests. Following graduation from Hamilton College, which his grandfather had helped to found, William aspired to be a college teacher, but when he suffered an accidental loss of hearing, he went to Germany to study for a time. Caroline and William Kirkland were married the day before her twenty-seventh birthday, in 1828, and embarked upon a life of collaborative work that ran counter to an increasingly insistent ideology of separate spheres of activity for women and men. During the first year of their marriage, the Kirklands established a girls' school near Utica, New York, and shared respon-