Portraits of American Women Writers That Appeared in Print Before 1861 - Header and Menu
 

MARIA BROOKS (1794 or 1795 – 1845)

Sarah J. Hale, ed. Woman’s Record (1853), p. 657; also 1855 ed.

HARRIET FARLEY (1817 – 1907)

Struggling to support a large, sickly New Hampshire family, Reverend Stephen and Lucy Farley relied on their older children to find work to keep the family afloat. Harriet Farley, the sixth of ten children, worked as a young woman in various menial jobs and taught school. Though teaching was the respected profession for a young woman who needed to earn an income, she rejected a career as a school mistress and traveled instead to Lowell , Massachusetts , to labor in the newly built textile mills.

Many of the mill workers were like Harriet – rural young women eager for social mobility – so they organized and attended "Improvement Circles" for intellectual and social growth. In 1841 one of these groups began to publish a monthly periodical, the Lowell Offering, for which Harriet Farley soon took responsibility as editor, publisher, and proprietor. Read widely both in the U.S. and abroad, the paper satisfied readers' curiosity about these young women who left home to work thirteen-hour factory shifts. As many workers began to demand better hours, wages, and conditions from factory owners, the popularity of both the Offering and of Harriet Farley herself declined, for she claimed that factory life was "emancipating" and defended management policies.

In addition to the Offering, Harriet Farley also published novels and stories and edited her father's book on theology. She married inventor John Donlevy in 1854, and, as he disapproved of her continuing her career, she spent the remainder of her life as a wife and mother in New York City .

Another portrait appears in:

The American Phrenological Journal, vol. 17 (Jan., 1853), p. 6.

 

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