The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism

Overview

"Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia Peabody were in many ways our American Brontes. The story of these remarkable sisters - and their central role in shaping the thinking of their day - has never before been fully told. Twenty years in the making, Megan Marshall's monumental biograpy brings the era of creative ferment known as American Romanticism to new life." "Elizabeth, the oldest sister, was a mind-on-fire thinker. A powerful influence on the great writers of the era - Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau among them - she also published some of their
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The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism

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Overview

"Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia Peabody were in many ways our American Brontes. The story of these remarkable sisters - and their central role in shaping the thinking of their day - has never before been fully told. Twenty years in the making, Megan Marshall's monumental biograpy brings the era of creative ferment known as American Romanticism to new life." "Elizabeth, the oldest sister, was a mind-on-fire thinker. A powerful influence on the great writers of the era - Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau among them - she also published some of their earliest works. It was Elizabeth who prodded these newly minted Transcendentalists away from Emerson's individualism and toward a greater connection to others. Mary was a determined and passionate reformer who finally found her soul mate in the great educator Horace Mann. The frail Sophia was a painter who won the admiration of the preeminent society artists of the day. She married Nathaniel Hawthorne - but not before Hawthorne threw the delicate dynamics among the sisters into disarray." Marshall focuses on the moment when the Peabody sisters made their indelible mark on history. Her unprecedented research into these lives uncovered thousands of letters never read before as well as other previously unmined original sources. The Peabody Sisters casts new light on a legendary American era.
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Editorial Reviews

Francine Prose
To write a group biography that also conveys the history of an era and a place is a massive enterprise, one that requires the writer to keep the threads of the story untangled even as the characters' lives overlap and converge. Marshall, a specialist in New England and women's history, has done a fine job of organizing and presenting excerpts from the voluminous letters (many of them previously undiscovered) and documents she located in the course of a project that took her almost two decades to complete.
— The New York Times
Gillian Gill
In human history, many women of distinction and originality have given their thoughts and perceptions to the men they loved without thought of reward. Elizabeth, Mary and Sophia Peabody differ in that so many of their letters and diaries have come down to us. (Hawthorne, however, burned Sophia's letters.) Through Marshall's beautiful book, we can taste the flavor of three remarkable lives and pay tribute.
— The Washington Post
Library Journal
We really wouldn't have Emerson, Hawthorne, or any other Transcendentalists without the intervention of these three sisters. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

"Outstanding . . . Marshall has distilled 20 years of research into a book that brings the sisters to life." Publishers Weekly, Starred

"An engrossing account, replete with both penetrating insights and interesting details." --Mary Ellen Quinn Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

"An excellent biography...a colorful and sympathetic portrait of these remarkable women." --Francine Prose The New York Times Book Review

"A stunning work of biography and intellectual history. . .the intellectual equivalent of a triple axel." --William Grimes The New York Times

"This monumental biography answers every question about its subjects but one: Why aren't the Peabody sisters famous? . . . Vibrant." --Sue Corbett People Magazine

"The real fascination is in [the Peabody sisters'] linked lives, and those have now been ably re-created." --Michael Kenney Boston Globe

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618711697
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/11/2006
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 624
  • Sales rank: 149,663
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.44 (d)

Meet the Author

MEGAN MARSHALL is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Biography for Margaret Fuller, and the author of The Peabody Sisters, which won the Francis Parkman Prize, the Mark Lynton History Prize, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2006. She teaches narrative nonfiction and the art of archival research in the MFA program at Emerson College. For more, visit www.meganmarshallauthor.com.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations IX
The Peabody Family Genealogy XII
Preface XV
Prologue: July 9, 1842 1
Part I Origins, 1746-1803
1 Matriarch 13
2 Legacies 17
3 Seductions 28
4 "Belinda" 39
5 Flight into Union 48
Part II The Family School, 1804-1820
6 "My Hopes All of Happiness" 59
7 Salem Girlhoods 64
8 The Doctor and His Wife 82
9 "Heretical Tendencies" 88
10 "Beginning to Live" 94
Part III Elizabeth, 1821-1824
11 Lancaster 103
12 Boston 118
13 Maine 133
Part IV Mary and Elizabeth, 1825-1828
14 "I Am Always My Own Heroine" 147
15 "There Is No Scandal in Brookline" 153
16 "Life Is Too Interesting to Me Now" 171
17 An Interior Revolution 179
Part V Sophia, 1829-1832
18 Dr. Walter 189
19 "My Soul Steps Forth upon the Paper" 201
20 "First Retreat into Solitude" 213
21 "Scatteration" 224
Part VI Somerset Court and La Recompensa, 1833-1835
22 Chastity 237
23 Blind Fair 257
24 Cuba Journals 271
Part VII "Before the Age in Salem," 1836-1839
25 Temple School Revisited 307
26 Little Waldo, Jones Very, and the "Divinity School Address" 327
27 The Sister Years 349
Part VIII 13 West Street, Boston, 1840-1842
28 Conversation 379
29 "Mr. Ripley's Utopia" 399
30 Two Funerals and a Wedding 422
Epilogue: May 1, 1843 441
Acknowledgments 455
Notes 459
Index 581
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2005

    A three-dimensional look at American history

    Group biographies are in fashion, and that seems to be a great thing for today's readers. In THE PEABODY SISTERS, I had the pleasure not only of getting to know three fascinating individuals, but of coming to understand their group dynamic and their powerful collective influence on American culture. While I'm not usually a follower of literary fads, this type of multi-dimensional portrait really does seem to provide a more accurate, 'true,' and by all means more captivating portrait than traditional birth-to-death biographies of single individuals. A captivating book, based on many years of solid research.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2012

    Great work.

    Excellent

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2005

    A 'Gourmet' Book

    Like a gourmet meal, The Peabody Sisters is a book to savor, even by a fast reader. The author reveals the lively intellectual curiosity and the profound influence of American women in the post-Revolutionary period when Transcendalism and American Romanticism blossomed. Her skillful writing incorporates the correspondence among the three sisters and their distinguished beaus and reveals a family and a community rich in intellect and ambition.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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