Cover image for Fanny Fern : an independent woman
Title:
Fanny Fern : an independent woman
Author:
Warren, Joyce W.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Brunswick : Rutgers University Press, [1992]

©1992
Physical Description:
xiv, 374 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Personal Subject:
Genre:
ISBN:
9780813517636
Format :
Book

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PS2523.P9 Z97 1992 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

Fanny Fern is a name that is unfamiliar to most contemporary readers. In this first modern biography, Warren revives the reputation of a once-popular 19th-century newspaper columnist and novelist. Fern, the pseudonym for Sara Payson Willis Parton, was born in 1811 and grew up in a society with strictly defined gender roles. From her rebellious childhood to her adult years as a newspaper columnist, Fern challenged society's definition of women's place with her life and her words. Fern wrote a weekly newspaper column for 21 years and, using colorful language and satirical style, advocated women's rights and called for social reform. Warren blends Fern's life story with an analysis of the social and literary world of 19th-century America.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Queens College (N.Y.) English faculty member Warren ( The American Narcissus: Individualism and Women in 19th-Century American Ficton ) performs valuable detective work in the field of women's studies by rescuing Fanny Fern (1811-1872) from oblivion. Born Sarah Payson in Portland, Maine, she took on the pseudonym in the 1850s when she became the first female American newspaper columnist. Estranged from an abusive husband and refused financial aid by a father and brother who disapproved of divorce, Fern turned to writing to feed her two children. Her satiric columns, which commented on such issues as women's rights, prostitution and prison conditions, as well as her bestselling novel Ruth Hall , made her a household name. Warren quotes liberally from Fern's columns and fiction in this extensively researched, well-written academic biography. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Fanny Fern is a name that is unfamiliar to most contemporary readers. In this first modern biography, Warren revives the reputation of a once-popular 19th-century newspaper columnist and novelist. Fern, the pseudonym for Sara Payson Willis Parton, was born in 1811 and grew up in a society with strictly defined gender roles. From her rebellious childhood to her adult years as a newspaper columnist, Fern challenged society's definition of women's place with her life and her words. Fern wrote a weekly newspaper column for 21 years and, using colorful language and satirical style, advocated women's rights and called for social reform. Warren blends Fern's life story with an analysis of the social and literary world of 19th-century America. A companion to this biography is Warren's earlier edited volume of Fern's writing, Ruth Hall and Other Writings (Rutgers Univ. Pr., 1986). Recommended for academic and large public libraries.--Judy Solberg, Univ. of Maryland Libs., College Park (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

This superior biography brings a once-popular 19th-century writer, now unknown, to full, vivid life. Born Sarah Payson Willis (1811-72), this deacon's daughter, always a rebel, as an adult wrote and was known to all as Fanny Fern. Her "hostility and wit" in her essays, short stories, and novels revealed a writer of humor, realism, and energy. Her Boston newspaper columns made her the first woman newspaper columnist and the highest-paid newspaper writer. She scandalized critics by writing of such topics as venereal disease, prostitution, birth control, religious narrowness, and a questioning of male authority. Widowed, then divorced (her second husband spread lies about her), she enjoyed a successful third marriage. Warren chronicles Fern's friendships with Walt Whitman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Horace Greeley, and Harriet Jacobs. Her Ruth Hall was praised by Nathaniel Hawthorne but criticized by other reviewers for its deviation from the role prescribed for women. This enthusiastic biography should revive an interest in Fanny Fern's writing. Contains photos and excellent notes. Very highly recommended for women's studies collections. J. Overmyer; Ohio State University