A Brief Biography of Judith Sargent Murray

“No one, in my view, has done more than Bonnie Hurd Smith, through the ongoing publication and assessment of the recently discovered letters of Judith Sargent Murray of Gloucester, Massachusetts, to establish the  position of this remarkable and courageous woman as one of our pioneer female intellectuals and patriots during the Revolutionary period.”
—Joseph E. Garland, Gloucester historian

“Bonnie’s book is history in its purest form…What she does is the kind of work that’s at the great universities, where editors are working on  making available to historians and scholars large quantities of original source material from the early republic…the work is selfless, and the most important work in history. It’s heroic.”
—Historian/journalist Richard Rosenfeld


As the most important female essayist of the New American Republic, Judith Sargent Murray claimed equality for women, called for quality female education, and insisted that women be allowed to earn and manage  their own money. She urged Americans to be virtuous, prosperous, and fair. She challenged the founding fathers, and opened doors for future  generations.

She was:
• The first person to claim female equality in the public prints ("On the Equality of the Sexes," 1790).
• Considered the first woman in America to self-publish a book, The Gleaner (1798).
• The first American to have a play produced in Boston (1795).
• The most important female essayist of the New American Republic, according to leading historians.
• The earliest known female American Universalist author.
• The co-founder of a female academy (Dorchester, MA).
• The only eighteenth century woman known to have kept letter books in a consistent manner.

Read Judith Sargent Murray’s remarkable story, skillfully woven together through her own words and Bonnie Hurd Smith’s mastery of Murray’s letters, told with insight, zeal, and deep appreciation for Murray’s contributions.

This highly engaging brief biography, available for instant download as an Ebook, is 80 pages plus illustrations and an index.

Book Chapters:
1.   Foundations
2.   Marriage, the War Years, and the Arrival
      of John Murray
3.   A New Addition to the Household
4.   Universalism Takes Hold, and a Writing
      Career Begins
5.   Widowed and Poor
6.   A New Marriage, Motherhood, and a
      Literary Career
7.   “The Gleaner” Champions the New Nation,
      Virtue, and Female Education
8.   The Move to “The Metropolis”
9.   Controversy and Literary Success
10. Judith’s Role as Family Educator Expands
11. Family Illness and a Loss for the Nation
12. Political Influence and New Endeavors
13. Another Journey to Philadelphia, and the
      Arrival of More Young People
14. Illness, Loss, and Uncertainty
15. Another Marriage, and a Grandchild
16. Renewed British Threats, and the Demise
      of John Murray
17. Preparing for Her Final Days and Her
      Daughter’s Future
18. The Move to Natchez

Also in the book:
• Images from the Letter Books
• Index
• About Bonnie Hurd Smith

A Brief Biography of Judith Sargent Murray
  • Item #: 9780979121456
  • Condition: New
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