Friday, January 11, 2019

Wild Women Novelists who Achieved Historic Firsts

Historic Firsts for Wild Women Novelists

Life is an adventure to write about. Here are three Wild Women Writers who wrote about their lives (and the world that challenged them) and created a first novel that was historic...

Margaret Jewett Smith Bailey 

( born around 1812 in Saugus, Massachusetts ) 


In 1854 (writing as Ruth Rover), Margaret published The Grains, or, Passages in the Life of Ruth Rover, with Occasional Pictures of Oregon, Natural and Moral. Part autobiography, religious testimonial, and history and travelogue—The Grains is also considered a novel and thought to be the first published in Oregon

Margaret wrote The Grains as a social protest criticizing her husband (who she divorced due to his drinking and abuse) and Oregon’s Methodist Mission (for its failures including discriminating against women and pressuring her to marry).

In 1846, she became the first local poet to be published west of the Rocky Mountains when her poem Love appeared in the first issue of the Oregon Spectator newspaper.

In addition to being a novelist, Margaret was a teacher, a missionary (traveling to Oregon to join its Methodist Mission in 1837) and a regular contributor of prose and poetry to the Oregon Spectator.

Sophia Alice Callahan

( born 1868 in Sulphur Springs, Texas )


In 1891 (at the age of 23) Sophia published Wynema, A Child of the Forest which is thought to be the first novel written by a Native American woman and the first novel written in Oklahoma (then Indian Territory).

After being shocked by the Massacre at Wounded Knee (which took place six months before she published her book), she added an account of that event and the 1890 Ghost Dance of the Lakota to her novel.

In addition to being a novelist, Sophia was a teacher. Her father (a one-eighth Muscogee-Creek) was also a teacher. Three years after publishing her first novel, she died of pleurisy at the age of 26.

Lydia Maria Francis Child

( born 1802 in Medford, Massachusetts )

In 1824 (at the age of 22) Lydia wrote (in six weeks) her first novel Hobomok, A Tale of Early Times and became an overnight celebrity. Hobomok is thought to be the first New England historical novel.

Although she wrote continually (fiction and nonfiction in poems, journals, periodicals, essays and pamphlets) she had a period where she didn’t publish a novel for ten years.

She wrote one of the earliest American historical novels, the first comprehensive history of American slavery, and the first comparative history of women. She shocked her audience by including the issues of male dominance and white supremacy.

In addition to being a novelist, Lydia was an abolitionist, women and Native American rights activist, and a journalist.

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I haven't written a story about a Wild Woman novelist but...after reading about these ladies I feel inspired to. So many stories, and not enough time to write them all! 

Do you have a favorite story about a 19th-century novelist? 


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4 comments:

Unknown said...

Hi,
Really interesting biographies of female authors, each one unique. There must have been sympathy for
Margaret Bailey whose husband abused her, but did a lot of people oppose her divorce?
I imagine there was a lot of opposition to those who defended Native Americans (First Nations).

Jacqui Nelson said...

I think a lot of folks opposed her divorce and, yes, as you commented a lot unfortunately opposed those who defended Native Americans and First Nations as well.

Renaissance Women said...

There are a number of women that we are now finally getting to know. Thank you for adding to the list. Doris

Jacqui Nelson said...

You're very welcome, Doris! I can stop reading about history, so I'm sure I'll keep finding more of these stories to share.