A recent biography I read had a line that stopped me and I had to think long about it: Among nineteenth-century American women poets, only Emily Dickinson continues to be read and studied. Damn. I started thinking of the women poets I know from the nineteenth century—and it was true, I couldn’t think of another American woman poet that I was taught in school. Emma Lazarus maybe, occasionally. But consistently read and studied?
Thank you Freya for introducing me to Howe’s work. I can see that what fuels her work is the her infuriated spirit under the domination of that wretched and distasteful husband of hers, what a prick seriously! Such deep and well researched homage this essay is to the poetess and the struggles of her inner life. I don’t think life has changed much for women still, the chore, the children, and the responsibilities are still at war with their angst for creativity and freedom, at least in the global East and south where feminism was slow to shape women’s liberation movements. However slowly we have learned to say no, learned to take time for ourselves, and shut the door every once in a while to retire with our quills and ink.
Thank you for giving me so much to think about. 💜🌼
This was such a stunning read, Freya. Thank you. To think of all the Julia Ward Howe’s ...their gorgeous talent snuffed out and stifled by their husbands/brothers/fathers. It’s heartbreaking and infuriating all at once.
This piece reminded me of the way I grew up in machismo culture. How we are taught to hide and not draw attention, to be a “lady”, that men know best. Excuse my language...F*ck all that.
Thank you so much for this!
Such a wonderful piece, Freya.
It’s a great thing to sing the praise of the less celebrated.
That. HUSBAND. Holy crap.
And "What a strange propensity it is in these scribbling women, to make a show of their hearts"?? Never did like Nathaniel Hawthorne. Such a judgmental, misogynist asshole. I think I still have minor surface-level scars from being forced to read him in high school.
Wonderful essay. I knew nothing about her. Have been hearing a lot about the Montei book, which I probably won't get around to reading so I appreciate your insights and thoughts about it. Thank you so much for all you do to bring us these lesser-known stories, Freya! Would love to see Howe's real life and poetry taught in schools.