Margaret Fuller: Writer and Activist.
By: Dr. Jessie Fields
With the excitement of embarking on a new book that I would explore as part of the Politics for the People Book Club I the opened the biography, Margaret Fuller, A New American Life by Megan Marshall. Thus began a journey of learning about and from a woman who lived for forty years in the first part of the nineteenth century and was a pioneer as a writer, journalist, intellectual and activist.
Margaret Fuller lived from 1810 to 1850. She lived mainly in Boston and Cambridge, New England, then in New York City and later she traveled through Europe and Italy. She was a prolific writer and wrote for and edited the Transcendentalist Journal the Dial. She wrote the proto feminist Woman of the Nineteenth Century, calling for equality for women.
She wrote editorials arguing in favor of voting rights for black New Yorkers in “What Fits a Man to Be a Voter?” and against capital punishment in “Darkness Visible”. She expressed her protean interests in writings on literary texts and works of art such as in her essay “Papers on Literature and Art”. Fuller’s writing is resonant with insight and vision for the future.
For 18 months she wrote a front page column for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, followed by a European tour as foreign correspondent, supporter and witness to the revolutions across Europe in 1848 and the 1848-1849 Roman revolution, which she served as a military nurse on the streets of Rome.
Megan Marshall sets out as she states in the prologue to write of Margaret Fuller’s life “the full story—operatic in its emotional pitch, global in its dimensions.” Marshall succeeds and with power and intimacy conveys the history of a leader who broke through the barriers of her time.