Our Sister Editors: Sarah J. Hale and the Tradition of Nineteenth-Century American Women Editors

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Our Sister Editors is the first book-length study of Sarah J. Hale's editorial career. From 1828 to 1836 Hale edited the Boston-based Ladies' Magazine and then from 1837 to 1877 Philadelphia's Godey's Lady's Book, which on the eve of the Civil War was the most widely read magazine in the United States, boasting more than 150,000 subscribers. Hale reviewed thousands of books, regularly contributed her own fiction and poetry to her magazines, wrote monthly editorials, and published the works of such writers as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Lydia Sigourney. Okker successfully relates Hale's contributions both to debates about the status of women and to the development of American literature. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Hale insisted on the power of women within both the public and private spheres. Throughout her long career, Hale helped popularize new ideas about reading and genre, and she made significant contributions to the development of professional authorship.Our Sister Editors also provides the first overview of the large and diverse group of nineteenth-century women editors. In her examination of the role of women as editors, owners, and publishers of periodicals and her use of Hale's career to exemplify and discuss a series of major issues related to women's writing and reading in Victorian America, Patricia Okker offers a provocative revisionist study.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Readers will be intrigued, challenged, and enlightened by the unprecedentedly strong claims that Okker makes for mainstream American Victorian conceptions of womanhood as a socially empowering formation for women writers and readers, and for the ambitiousness and complexity of Hale's design and achievement as one of the chief fomenters of these conceptions."—Lawrence Buell, Harvard University

"Okker makes complex and critically sophisticated arguments. I hope that Okker's work will encourage others to push forward in this fascinating field of research and complete the task she had begun.”—New England Quarterly

"Patricia Okker's study of Sarah Josepha Hale challenges several unexamined assumptions of both American literary history and feminist criticism."—American Literature

"Okker's book is well argued and enlightening, strongly supported by specific examples from Hale's editorials, articles, and choice of materials. This is the only comprehensive list of nineteenth century women magazine editors and is invaluable to those interested in researching these women and their work."—Victorian Periodicals Review

Okker (English, U. of Missouri) studies Hale's career as an editor of popular ladies' magazines, book reviewer, and fiction and poetry writer, and relates her contributions to debates about the status of women and the development of American literature, countering the perception that Hale's only accomplishment was the authorship of Mary Had a Little Lamb. She examines the role of women as editors, owners, and publishers of periodicals, and highlights the contributions of some 600 women editors of the period in the appendix. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820332499
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Okker is professor and department chair of English at the University of Missouri, Columbia.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Women Periodical Editors in the Nineteenth-Century United States 6
2 From Intellectual Equality to Moral Difference: Hale's Conversion to Separate Spheres 38
3 Essentialism and Empowerment: Hale's Theory of Separate Spheres 59
4 The Professionalization of Authorship 84
5 Women's Reading 110
6 Hale's Aesthetics of Poetry and Fiction 138
Epilogue. Beyond the Lady's Book: Hale's Legacy in the Twentieth Century 163
Appendix: Nineteenth-Century American Women Periodical Editors 167
Notes 221
Works Cited 247
Index 259
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