The Library Company of Philadelphia


Being Single

William Rau. When a Man Is Single (c1897).


This humorous stereograph shows the bachelor – doing his own mending.

Fitz-Greene Halleck, "To Louis Gaylord Clark, Esquire," in The Knickerbocker Gallery. New-York: Samuel Hueston, 1855.


Fitz-Greene Halleck (1790-1867) dedicates this presumably autobiographical poem to Louis Gaylord Clark, the longtime editor of the Knickerbocker magazine. In the poem, Halleck describes himself as a guest at Clark's wedding:


A stranger, mateless and forlorn.
Pledged bachelor, and hermit sworn….


Later in the poem, Halleck claims that he is almost tempted to forget his "anti-nuptual vow" and ask the "bridesmaid with the prettiest face" to marry him. Almost … but not enough.

Fratelli D'Alessandri. Anne Hampton Brewster. Albumen photograph, ca. 1874. McAllister Collection.


In 1874 when this photograph was probably taken, Anne Hampton Brewster (1819-1892) was working in Rome as a foreign correspondent for American newspapers. Born in Philadelphia, she became a Library Company shareholder in 1851, and on her death in 1892 left her papers to the Library Company as a bequest. Among her papers are twenty-five journals and diaries. One of the most remarkable entries is that of February 18, 1849, in which she reminisces about the close relationship she had with the actress Charlotte Cushman about five years earlier, describing it as a "glorious beam of sunshine in my existence." It seems that Brewster's brother disapproved of the relationship. Although it "required all the duty bindings of [her] strict conventional culture," the two women "were separated," leaving Brewster feeling "out at sea without rudder or compass."

Anne M. H. Brewster. Compensation, or, Always a Future. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1860.


Before turning to journalism, Anne Hampton Brewster wrote poetry, short stories, and novels. Set in Switzerland, her novel Compensation has a female narrator named Fanny Fauvette. Fanny's two female acquaintances are in romantic relationships with men. One man is honorable, and the two marry. The other man is dishonorable and moves away to Paris. Fanny helps the second woman redirect her life toward a career as a concert pianist. Fanny herself ultimately forms a close relationship with an older woman named Octavie. Shown here is the passage in which Fanny tells Octavie that she will never marry, thus becoming Octavie's surrogate daughter.

Peregrine Cooper (attributed). Anna E. Dickinson. Albumen cabinet card photograph, ca. 1880. Gift of Richard P. Morgan.


In the 1850s Anna E. Dickinson (1842-1932) became a celebrity orator for the abolitionist cause at a very young age. Traveling on the lecture circuit, she attracted dozens of passionate admirers, both male and female. There is no evidence that she ever seriously considered marrying the various men who courted her, and she often distanced herself from women who wanted her to continue relationships that had become emotionally and physically intimate.


Dickinson supported woman suffrage, but chose to promote black male suffrage first. This was a particular disappointment to woman suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony (who called her pet names like "Darling Dicky Dicky" in her correspondence with Dickinson). Dickinson also did not endorse temperance and complained that her friend Frances Willard had tricked her into appearing to do so at an 1875 rally.