James B. Longacre and James Herring, eds. The National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished
Americans, vol. 4 (1839), plate opposite entry; also 1840 ed.
LYDIA H. SIGOURNEY (1791
As a child Lydia Sigourney attended the local schools near
her family's Connecticut
home and browsed through the libraries of the woman for whom her father
worked as a gardener and handyman. She and a friend founded a seminary for
young women in Norwich, Connecticut in 1811, and she administered
and taught in girls' schools until she married merchant Charles Sigourney in
1819. During these years she also published her first book, Moral Pieces, in Prose and Verse.
She continued to write throughout her married life, at
first donating the proceeds of her publications to various reform groups such
as the temperance movement, peace societies, and missionary groups. When her
husband's prosperity began to decline in the 1830s, she sold her stories and
poems to periodicals and, abandoning anonymity, Lydia Sigourney embraced her
rapidly growing literary celebrity.
Her poems appeared in magazines and gift books as well as
in her own collected volumes. She rarely departed from her trademark formula
of pious and morbid themes tied together by catchy couplets. As a testament
to her renown, Louis Godey paid her generously, not for editing his magazine,
but rather for allowing her name to appear alongside the names of the actual editors.
A shrewd businesswoman, she continued to publish at the rate of a book a year
throughout the 1850s; she died in Hartford
Other portraits appear in:
“Our Contributors,” in Graham’s Magazine 22 (1843):
53-55, frontispiece showing five separate portraits.
George B. Cheever, ed. The Poets of America (1847), plate opposite p. 348.
Thomas B. Read, ed. Female
Poets of America (1849), plate opposite p. 45.
H. Sigourney. Illustrated Poems
(1849), plate opposite p. 17.
Sarah J. Hale, ed. Woman’s
Record (1853), p. 782; also 1855 ed.
Abner D. Jones, ed. The
Illustrated American Biography, vol 3 (1853), p. 471.
H. Sigourney. Letters to My Pupils,
2 nd ed. (1853), frontispiece.
H. Sigourney. The Western Home (1854),
Evert A. and George L. Duyckinck, eds. Cyclopaedia of American Literature
(1855), vol. 2, p. 136.
Repository (February, 1855), plate preceding p. 65.
Henry Coppée, ed. A
Gallery of Distinguished English and American Female Poets
(1860), p. 181.