Maria Ruiz de Burton

First Female Mexican American Author to Write in English

Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton is among the best remembered authors of nineteenth-century Mexican American literature. Fully bilingual, de Burton was the first female Mexican American to write novels in English: Who Would Have Thought It? and The Squatter and the Don.

Early Years
Though records are sparse, Maria Amparo Ruiz was born into an aristocratic Latino family in Loreto on the Baja California peninsula of Mexico. Her grandfather, Don Jose Manuel Ruiz, was sent to the frontier to assist in the founding of missions in Baja.

Heading a large force of men, Ruiz left Loreto in 1780, and several missions were soon founded. For this, Ruiz was awarded a large grant of land, “…48,884 acres was conferred upon Lieutenant Jose Manuel Ruiz of the Spanish Army, July 10, 1804 for gallant services.” As granddaughter of Ruiz, Maria would one day inherit the vast Rancho Ensenada de Todos Santos established on those lands by her grandfather.

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Mary Virginia Terhune

Novelist and Author of Domestic Manuals

Mary Virginia Terhune (1830–1922) was an American author of novels, short stories, biographies, travel narratives, cookbooks and domestic manuals whose career stretched across seven decades. She began her career writing articles at the age of 14, using various pen names, until 1853 when she settled on Marion Harland. Her first novel Alone sold more than 100,000 copies.

Born December 21, 1830 in Dennisville, Virginia, Mary Virginia Hawes was the third of nine children born to Samuel Pierce and Judith Anna Smith Hawes. Terhune was home schooled until 1844, when her family moved to Richmond, Virginia, where she attended a girl’s seminary school for two years of formal education.

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Susan Shelby Magoffin

Pioneer Woman on the Santa Fe Trail

Susan Shelby Magoffin was the young wife of a trader from the United States who traveled on the Santa Fe Trail in the late 1840s. She recorded her experiences in a diary – Down the Santa Fe Trail and Into Mexico: The Diary of Susan Shelby Magoffin, 1846-1847 (1926) – which has been used extensively as a source for that period in history.

Image: 7-foot tall statue sculpted by Ethan Houser
Keystone Heritage Park
El Paso, Texas

Early Years
Susan Shelby was born into a wealthy family on July 30, 1827 on their plantation near Danville, Kentucky. She was the granddaughter of Isaac Shelby, a hero of the American Revolution and the first governor of Kentucky. She grew up with servants and received a proper education.

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Grace Greenwood

First Woman Correspondent for the New York Times

Sara Jane Lippincott (1823–1904) was an author, journalist and activist, better known by the pseudonym Grace Greenwood. One of the first women to gain access to the Congressional press galleries, she used the opportunity to advocate for social reform and women’s rights, while creating a path for future women correspondents.

Throughout a career that lasted over half a century, Greenwood most often worked as a journalist. She and her writing were praised in many journals, including Female Prose Writers of America (1852), Female Poets of America (1859) and Eminent Women of the Age (1869), but she was often disliked for her strong opinions on women’s rights and the abolition of slavery.

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Elizabeth Ellet

Author of The Women of the American Revolution

Elizabeth Ellet was an author and historian. She was the first writer to record the lives of women who had made significant contributions during the American Revolution. Ellet not only recovered the history of women of that era; she recognized the importance of preserving these stories, which had been ignored by other American historians.

Early Years
Elizabeth Fries Lummis was born October 18, 1818 in Sodus Point, New York. Her mother was Sarah Maxwell Lummis, daughter of Revolutionary War captain John Maxwell, who was lieutenant of the first company raised in Sussex County, New Jersey. He later joined the army of General George Washington as captain of a company of 100 volunteers known as Maxwell’s Company.

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anne lynch botta

Anne Lynch Botta

Poet and Literary Salon Hostess

Anne Lynch Botta was a poet, sculptor and salon hostess in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. The most well-known writers, actors and artists of the era were among the creative people who attended the gatherings Botta held at her home in New York City. Edgar Allan Poe read his early drafts of ‘The Raven’ there, while Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson discussed transcendentalism.

Early life
She was born Anne Charlotte Lynch in Bennington, Vermont to Patrick Lynch and Charlotte Gray Lynch. Her father took part in the United Irishmen Rebellion of 1798 in Dublin, for which he was imprisoned and then banished from Ireland. He came to the United States at the age of 18, eventually making his way to Bennington where he set up a dry goods business.

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Susan Fenimore Cooper

Author and Daughter of James Fenimore Cooper

Susan Fenimore Cooper was a writer and amateur naturalist, who is best known for Rural Hours, her nature diary of Cooperstown, New York. She also wrote a novel, short stories, children’s stories, and dozens of magazine articles on a wide variety of subjects.

Early Years
Susan Augusta Fenimore Cooper was born on April 17, 1813 in Scarsdale, New York, the daughter of the novelist James Fenimore Cooper and Susan De Lancey Cooper. She was their second child, and the eldest to survive childhood. In the summer of 1813 the Coopers traveled to Cooperstown, New York, the settlement founded by James’ father, Judge William Cooper. Along the way they stopped to rest and Susan’s older sister Elizabeth ate some over-ripe strawberries and she died soon after from food poisoning.

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Catherine Beecher

A Pioneer in Women’s Education

American author and educator, Catherine Beecher believed that a woman’s role as educator and moral guide for her family was the basis of a well-ordered society. While she might have balked at being called a feminist (she did not support suffrage), her new theories about a woman’s place contributed to a growing feminist attitude that a woman did not have to be weak and passive, but could be a strong and important member of her community.

Early Years
Catherine Beecher (also spelled Catharine) was born September 6, 1800 in East Hampton, New York to the prominent Beecher family, who greatly influenced American culture and politics during the late nineteenth century. Catherine was the eldest of 13 children born to Presbyterian minister Dr. Lyman Beecher and Roxana Foote Beecher, eight of whom survived infancy. Her parents had a strong influence on the values she held as an adult.

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Frances Sargent Osgood

Frances Sargent Osgood was one of the most popular women writers and poets of the mid-nineteenth century. Though some critics berated her writing as overly sentimental, Osgood achieved a wide readership and her fame was based on her success as an author, not merely for her connection to Edgar Allan Poe.

Edgar Allan Poe, author of The Raven
Image: Frances Sargent Osgood and Edgar Allan Poe (painting of Poe by Fanny’s husband)

Early Life
Frances Sargent Locke was born on June 18, 1811 in Boston, Massachusetts to Joseph Locke, a wealthy merchant, and his second wife Mary. Fanny, as she was known, spent her early years in Hingham, Massachusetts, and probably received her formal education at home by private tutors, but she also attended the Boston Lyceum for Young Ladies in 1828. Her poetry was first published when she was fourteen in a children’s magazine called Juvenile Miscellany by editor Lydia Maria Child.

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Matilda Hoffman

Washington Irving’s One and Only Love

Though she died very young, Matilda Hoffman made such a deep impression on the young American author Washington Irving (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow) that he mourned her passing for the rest of his life. Decades later, the mere mention of her name left him speechless.

Sarah Matilda Hoffman was born in 1791, daughter of Josiah Ogden and Mary Colden Hoffman. Matilda, as she was known, grew up in Manhattan and Albany, New York. Her mother died when she was six years old and her father married Maria Fenno five years later and began a second family. Maria was only ten years older than Matilda.

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