Margaret Fuller

Margaret Fuller, an outstanding essayist, was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. From a modest financial background, she was educated at home by her father (women were not allowed to attend Harvard) and became a child prodigy in the classics and modern literatures. Her special passion was German Romantic literature, especially Goethe, whom she translated.

The first professional woman journalist of note in America, Fuller wrote influential book reviews and reports on social issues such as the treatment of women prisoners and the insane. Some of these essays were published in her book Papers on Literature and Art (1846). A year earlier, she had her most significant book, Woman in the Nineteenth Century. It originally had appeared in the Transcendentalist magazine, The Dial, which she edited from 1840 to 1842.

Fuller's Woman in the Nineteenth Century is the earliest and most American exploration of women's role in society. Often applying democratic and Transcendental principles, Fuller thoughtfully analyzes the numerous subtle causes and evil consequences of sexual discrimination and suggests positive steps to be taken. Many of her ideas are strikingly modern. She stresses the importance of "self-dependence," which women lack because "they are taught to learn their rule from without, not to unfold it from within."

Fuller is finally not a feminist so much as an activist and reformer dedicated to the cause of creative human freedom and dignity for all:

...Let us be wise and not impede the soul....Let us have one creative energy....Let it take what form it will, and let us not bind it by the past to man or woman, black or white.