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


Miron Winslow. Memoir of Mrs. Harriet L. Winslow (New York, 1835), frontispiece. Library Company has American Tract Society edition, copyright 1840.


Harriet Winslow, of Norwich, Connecticut, came from a devout family of Christians; three of her sisters eventually followed her into missionary work. She publicly joined her church at the young age of thirteen. Ten years later, she married the recently ordained Rev. Miron Winslow, a graduate of Middlebury College and the Andover Theological Seminary, and a member of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The two were commissioned to Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon), where Mrs. Winslow worked for thirteen years, helping to found the Missionary Seminary and Female Central School.

The Rev. Winslow wrote his wife’s memoir and published it two years after her death. In one journal entry, written shortly after the founding of the Female Central School, Mrs. Winslow writes of a conversation she overheard among several native girls who had become influenced by Christian teachings. She is particularly pleased with the girls’ conversation because previously she had noted that the Hindu belief in transmigration of the soul to a new body after death “almost destroys their sense of accountability and fear of the consequences of sin”:

“I … was comforted in the belief that if they gain nothing else by being with us, they will learn it is an awful thing to die. Three of them were standing in the verandah just at twilight, and looking at the distant smoke rising from the burning of a dead body. Betsey said, ‘Another soul is gone before God to-day.’ ‘Yes,’ said Elizabeth, ‘and where is it, in heaven or hell?’ One replied, ‘We don’t know, but we think it is in hell!’ ‘Yes,’ said another, ‘and this is three since last night; and perhaps one of us may be there before to-morrow morning.’ ‘And many of this people too,’ said E. ‘for a great many die in a day.’ They sighed and said, ‘All this people are going to hell.’ In this strain they continued their conversation for some time, without knowing that I overheard them.” (p. 290-291)



The Library Company of Philadelphia 1314 Locust St., Phila. PA 19107 215-546-3181 FAX 215-546-5167 Copyright 2005 All Rights Reserved. Nicole Scalessa, IT Manager, nscalessa@librarycompany.org

Introduction Portrait Gallery LCP Home