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MARIA JANE McINTOSH (1803 – 1878)

John S. Hart, ed. Female Prose Writers of America (1852), plate opposite p. 63.

MARIA JANE McINTOSH (1803 – 1878)

A writer whose apologies for slavery and sentimental style have relegated her novels and essays to obscurity, Maria McIntosh was, in the 1840s, publishing on both sides of the Atlantic as one of the most popular novelists of her day. Raised by her widowed mother in Liberty Co., Georgia, she attended nearby academies and assumed the management of her family's estate when she finished school and her mother died in 1823. Aware that the property was a declining venture, she sold it in 1835 and joined her half-brother and sister in New York City.

A financial crisis in 1837 strengthened her determination to be self-supporting, and she began to generate income by writing a series of children's books under the name "Aunt Kitty," eventually publishing a seven-volume set entitled Aunt Kitty's Juvenile Library as well as a successful series for adults. She also wrote essays on women's rights and slavery, in which she emphasized women's heavenly-ordained domestic virtue and defended the practice of slavery, accusing Harriet Beecher Stowe of grossly distorting her portrayal of the institution in Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Though she never returned to the South, she continued to feature southern characters and settings in her books, and she hosted occasional salons in her home to introduce her New York guests to southern hospitality. She died at the home of her niece in New Jersey.

Another portrait appears in:

Evert A. and George L. Duyckinck, eds. Cyclopaedia of American Literature (1855), vol. 2, p. 384.



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