123 Margaret Fuller: Biography

Sarah Margaret Fuller was born May 23, 1810. She was the first born of two other siblings who survived past childhood. Her father, Timothy Fuller, a senator, wished she had been born a man and thus he decided to educate her as one. Her father was strict and she later blamed her childhood nightmare and sleep walking on his rigorous teachings. She did not attend an actual school until she was fourteen, when she was accepted to the Cambridge Port Private Grammar School, also known as “The Port School”. This was a boy’s school but also allowed girls to attend as well.

Her father eventually left the senate and moved the family to a farm in Groton when Fuller was 23. Fuller continued to be well educated, learning different languages earning her the reputation as one of the best well-read people in America. In 1836, her father passed away from cholera, leaving her uncles to take possession of their farm. Fuller wrote that she regretted being a woman because she could not take care of her siblings and widowed mother.

One of the people who noticed Fuller’s intellectualism was Ralph Waldo Emerson, who asked her to become an editor for his transcendentalist journal, The Dial. Fuller accepted the position and spent four years (1840-1844) as an editor. It was here that she published the first serial form of the The Great Lawsuit.

Her journalism career led her to leave The Dial and work for The New York Tribune in 1844 to work as the paper’s first female editor. Here, she published her first article which criticized essays by Emerson and wrote columns on topics such as politics and social issues. In 1846 she was sent to Europe (as the first female correspondent) and went on to interview several prominent European writers. It was in England that she met Giovanni Angelo Ossolii, an Italian revolutionary, and the couple eventually moved in together in Florence, Italy in 1846. It was speculated if they were even married, and Fuller said she would not marry him because they were of different religions. Fuller and Ossolii had a son in in 1848.

The two were involved in the Italian revolution led by Giuseppe Mazzini and were forced to flee the country in 1849, travelling to the United States. The ship, however, ran aground and the bodies of Fuller, Ossolii, and their son were never found.

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Margaret Fuller: Biography by Timothy Robbins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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