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New Americanists

The First Woman in the Republic: A Cultural Biography of Lydia Maria Child

By
Carolyn L. Karcher
Carolyn L. Karcher

Carolyn L. Karcher is Professor of English, American Studies, and Women’s Studies at Temple University.

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Duke University Press
ISBN electronic:
978-0-8223-9838-7
Publication date:
1998

For half a century Lydia Maria Child was a household name in the United States. Hardly a sphere of nineteenth-century life can be found in which Lydia Maria Child did not figure prominently as a pathbreaker. Although best known today for having edited Harriet A. Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, she pioneered almost every department of nineteenth-century American letters—the historical novel, the short story, children’s literature, the domestic advice book, women’s history, antislavery fiction, journalism, and the literature of aging. Offering a panoramic view of a nation and culture in flux, this innovative cultural biography (originally published by Duke University Press in 1994) recreates the world as well as the life of a major nineteenth-figure whose career as a writer and social reformer encompassed issues central to American history.

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