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



Evert A. and George L. Duyckinck, eds. Cyclopaedia of American Literature (1855), vol. 2, p. 180.


Born and educated in Boston, Caroline Gilman composed poetry as a young woman but shared the attitude of many men and women of her day that publishing was unladylike; when one of her poems appeared in her school newspaper without her permission she cried that she was "as alarmed as if I had been detected in man's apparel!" Overcoming this initial shock at seeing her work in print, she went on to publish novels and poems, and she edited one of the first American magazines for children.

Caroline Gilman married Rev. Samuel Gilman in 1819, after which she relocated with him to Charleston, SC and embraced the South as her new home. As the tensions between North and South increased and the nation braced itself for conflict, she refused to cast her lot with either side, and focused instead on the shared values and cultural institutions that she believed could unite the divided states. In the 1830s she published Recollections of a Housekeeper and Recollections of a Southern Matron, domestic novels set in the North and South respectively, to illustrate the similarities between northern and southern households and the ability of domestic, maternal sentiment to transcend regional and political differences. After the war she remained in the South and co-authored a volume of poetry with her daughter, Caroline Howard.

Another portrait appears in:

Sarah J. Hale, ed. Woman’s Record (1853), p. 697; also 1855 ed.



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