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Dorothy McLeod MacInerney

Blake, Mary Elizabeth (01 September 1840–26 February 1907), author, was born Mary Elizabeth McGrath in Dungarven, Ireland, the daughter of Patrick McGrath, an artisan in marble, and Mary Murphy. Mary’s family immigrated to Quincy, Massachusetts, when she was ten. Her father’s trade prospered, enabling him to provide his children with good educations. Mary attended Quincy High School from 1855 to 1859, Emerson’s Private School in Boston from 1859 to 1861, and the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Manhattanville from 1861 to 1863. Her major interests in school were music and modern languages. Upon graduating, Mary began teaching and writing poems, which were published in local newspapers. In 1865 she married John G. Blake, a prominent Boston physician; they had eleven children....

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Bremer, Fredrika (17 August 1801–31 December 1865), novelist, travel writer, and poet, was born near Abo, Finland, the daughter of a wealthy merchant and his wife. The family moved to Stockholm, Sweden, in 1804 as Russia prepared to annex Finland, then a year later to a country estate near Arsta, Sweden. Bremer’s early life was unhappy; she was isolated and held under her parents’ strict control, her days consumed by a demanding academic regimen of history, philosophy, literature, music, art, and languages. She escaped the pressure by consuming romance novels by the British author Fanny Burney. Her health deteriorated, and in 1821 the family took her to the south of France to convalesce....

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Dorr, Julia Caroline Ripley (13 February 1825–18 January 1913), author, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the daughter of William Young Ripley, a merchant, and Zulma DeLacy Thomas. Dorr’s mother and her family, natives of France, had come to Charleston from the West Indies after a slave revolt dispossessed them in the late 1700s. Julia, an only child, moved with her family to Vermont because of her mother’s ill health; the change of region failed to help, however, as Zulma Ripley died on the day following her arrival. Julia was reared in Vermont and, for a time, in New York City. Her education has been characterized as “irregular” and “haphazard,” but she apparently had some talent in Latin and attended classes at the Middlebury seminary in Vermont. At the age of twenty-two, she married Seneca M. Dorr, a young businessman who apparently shared Julia’s interests in literature and elite culture, and they made their home in Ghent, New York, for a decade before moving to Rutland, Vermont, to join Julia’s father (who had established successful careers as the owner of marble quarries and as a bank president)....

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Hale, Susan (05 December 1833–17 September 1910), writer and painter, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Nathan Hale, owner and editor of the Boston Daily Advertiser, and Sarah Preston Everett, a linguist, writer, and the sister of statesman Edward Everett. Susan Hale grew up in a literary and intellectual environment that served as the major educational force of her early years. She studied with private tutors until she was sixteen and then attended ...

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Le Vert, Octavia Celeste Walton (11 August 1811–12 March 1877), socialite and author, was born at the plantation home of her grandfather, “Bellevue,” just outside Augusta, Georgia, the daughter of George Walton II, a wealthy lawyer and senior statesman, and Sally Minge Walker. (Le Vert’s birth year has appeared in some sources as 1810 and 1820 and her death date as 13 March. The dates given here are the official dates printed on her tombstone and cemetery records.) Le Vert came from a family with generations of distinguished history. Her paternal grandfather, ...

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Lewis, Ida (25 February 1842–24 October 1911), first female lighthouse keeper in the United States, was born in Newport, Rhode Island, the daughter of Captain Hosea Lewis, a coast pilot, and his second wife, Idawalley Zoradia Willey. The couple named their eldest daughter Idawalley Zoradia, but she was known throughout her life as “Ida” or “Miss Lewis.”...

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Lincoln, Abbey (6 Aug. 1930–14 Aug. 2010), jazz singer and songwriter, and actress, was born Anna Marie Wooldridge in Chicago, the daughter of Alexander Wooldridge, a handyman, and Evelyn Coffey. They settled in Calvin Center, Michigan when Wooldridge, the tenth of twelve children, was four years old. The family was poor when her father was contributing; they lived in deep poverty after her parents separated, the year unknown. In Calvin Center Wooldridge attended a one-room school and the African Methodist Episcopal Church, where she became immersed in gospel music. Despite poverty, there was a piano at home. She picked out melodies at the keyboard and sang, but had no formal training in music....

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Martineau, Harriet (12 June 1802–27 June 1876), author, was born in Norwich, England, the daughter of Thomas Martineau, a textile manufacturer, and Elizabeth Rankin. The family was Unitarian, republican, and laissez-fairist, and these traditions shaped both Harriet’s early thinking and her implicit belief in natural law and the rights of the individual. Although her education was inferior to that given her brothers, it was more rigorous than was customary for girls of the period. In adolescence she developed a hearing disorder that left her permanently hard of hearing, but, despite this disability and her inferior status as a woman in the nineteenth century, she made her living as a writer and earned an international reputation doing so....

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Patten, Mary Ann Brown (1837–18 March 1861), navigator and sailor, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of George Brown and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). Married in April 1853 at the age of sixteen, she accompanied her husband, Captain Joshua Adams Patten, on two voyages aboard his ship, the major shipbuilders Foster & Nickerson’s big vessel, ...

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Mary Ann Brown Patten. Ninth-plate ambrotype, c. 1857, by Unidentified Artist. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Dorthy Knouse Koepke.

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Royall, Anne Newport (11 June 1769–01 October 1854), travel writer and journalist, was born near Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of William Newport and Mary (maiden name unknown). The Newports moved to the Pennsylvania frontier in 1772 and by 1775 were living near Hanna’s Town, the Westmoreland County seat, after which time William Newport disappears from the records. Anne learned to read at an early age from her father and briefly attended school in a log cabin. After the death of her mother’s second husband (c. 1782), she moved with her mother and her half brother to Middle River, Virginia. In 1787 she and her mother became domestics for William Royall of Sweet Springs Mountain, now in West Virginia....

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Scidmore, Eliza Ruhamah (14 October 1856–03 November 1928), author and traveler, was born in Madison, Wisconsin, the daughter of George Bolles Scidmore and Eliza Catharine Sweeney, missionaries. Her parents’ journeys to Japan and China served as inspiration for Scidmore’s overseas travels in these areas, visits that resulted in nine travel narratives. Educated in private boarding schools and with one year at Oberlin College (1873–1874), Scidmore moved to Washington, D.C., and began a career in writing with letters about high society in the nation’s capital that she published in the ...

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Olive Hoogenboom

Simon, Kate (05 January 1912–04 February 1990), writer, was born Kaila Grobsmith in Warsaw, Poland, the daughter of Jacob Grobsmith, a skilled shoemaker, and Lina Babicz, a corsetiere. Braving wartime travel to save the life of her ailing young son, Lina Grobsmith along with her two children came to the United States in 1916 by steerage, joining her husband who had arrived three years earlier....

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Thompson, Era Bell (10 August 1906–30 December 1986), author and editor, was born in Des Moines, Iowa, the daughter of Stewart C. Thompson and Mary Logan. In 1914 she moved with her family to Driscoll, North Dakota, where her father was a farmer and, from 1917 to 1921, a private messenger for Governor ...

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Trollope, Frances (10 March 1779–06 October 1863), novelist and travel writer, was born in Stapleton, near Bristol, England, the daughter of the Reverend William Hilton and Frances Gresley, who died when “Fanny” was very young. Her father later remarried. She was educated by her father in their home near Bristol. In 1809 she married Thomas Anthony Trollope, a rising barrister. Between 1810 and 1818 she gave birth to seven children, including Anthony Trollope, who himself would write forty-seven novels. Only two of these children survived her, as sickness and premature deaths plagued the family. In 1813 Thomas Trollope took over a farm in Harrow that proved to be an economic disappointment....

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Woolson, Constance Fenimore (05 March 1840–24 January 1894), writer, was born in Claremont, New Hampshire, the daughter of Charles Jarvis Woolson, a businessman, and Hannah Cooper Pomeroy, a niece of James Fenimore Cooper. Woolson was only weeks old when three of her sisters died of scarlet fever. These circumstances may have exacted a price on the writer, causing her to see life as particularly fragile and childbearing and motherhood as situations fraught with pain. Although some evidence suggests that she had a crush on a Union officer during the Civil War, Woolson was never seriously romantically involved with anyone male or female, her closest associates being family members....

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Workman, Fanny Bullock (08 January 1859–22 January 1925), travel writer and mountain climber, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, the daughter of Alexander Hamilton Bullock, a Republican politician and one-term governor of Massachusetts, and Elvira Hazard. Her mother was one of three surviving children of Augustus George Hazard, wealthy landowner and cofounder of Hazard Powder Company (one of the most prominent manufacturers of gunpowder in the mid-nineteenth century). Raised in affluence, Fanny Bullock was privately tutored during her early childhood. As an adolescent, she completed her education at finishing schools in New York City, Paris, and Dresden. She returned to the family home in Worcester at the age of twenty and met William Hunter Workman, a Yale-educated physician who was twelve years her senior. In 1881 she married Workman, with whom she had one child....