Margaret Fuller: The Life of an Astonishing Woman

This iconic woman was a key figure in the women's rights movements and was equally important to the literature of the Transcendental era.

Sarah Margaret Fuller was born May 23, 1810 in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts. Margaret Fuller began her education at a very young age as she learned Greek and Latin and received education from her father, Timothy Fuller. She continued her learning by attending many different schools and learning German and Italian. She then went on to teach at the Bronson Alcott's Temple School and the Green Street School in Providence, RI. After teaching at these schools for two years, she moved on to become a conversationalist and focusing more on her writing. She grew close to Ralph Waldo Emerson and even used many of his Transcendental views in many open discussions she had with other women. Many of these conversations were based on the belief that women knew as much about philosophy that men did. In the early 1840's Margaret Fuller was hired as the editor for a philosophical journal known as The Dial. She then moved on to join the New York Tribune as she became the book review editor for the newspaper. The publication of her essay, The Great Lawsuit. Man versus Men, Woman versus Women, was the beginning of feminism being present within her works. The central idea of women equality continued to be present through the rest of her publications. In 1846, Margaret Fuller was the foreign correspondent for the Tribune and she travelled to Europe in order to send back articles on the art and letters found there. Once she arrived to Italy, she became so engrossed in the revolution that she stayed there for a while. While she was there she had a child with Marchese Giovanni Angelo d'Ossoli. They got married the next year. Their son, Angelo, would be their first and only son. At the end of the revolution, due to the failure, Margaret Fuller, along with her husband and son, set off back to America. However, tragedy struck and the family never made it to America. All three of them drowned off of Fire Island, New York in July of 1850. She had in her possession a manuscript to a book she wrote on the Italian revolution, but it was lost at sea, thus leaving only the works she left back in Europe. Not only was Margaret Fuller essential for the beginning of the women's rights movement, but she also exhibited extraordinary talent within her writing. She was the definition of Transcendentalism.

Transcendental Movement

During the early to mid-nineteenth century, the movement of Transcendentalism began in America. Doubts began to arise about the religious teachings and as a result many turned to the idea that knowledge could be found within one's inner self. This movement predominantly reigned within the literature of this time as authors began professing their ideals in their writings. The very first meeting of transcendentalists occurred in Cambridge, Massachusetts with the group known as the Transcendental Club. The prominent leader of the movement was Ralph Waldo Emerson. The movement did not last long within the literature due to the death of Margaret Fuller and the impact her death had on the other advocates for the movement. Even though the movement did not last, its impact on literature still remained evident. Transcendentalism brought a new way of how people began to understand truth and knowledge. Great philosophies arose during this time period and these philosophies can still be found in the root of many today. This movement also brought a new revival in literature that brought about a new revolution in the way people expressed their ideas and beliefs.

Wise Words of Margaret Fuller

"Without such ideas all attempts to construct a national literature must end in abortions like the monster of Frankenstein, things with forms, and the instincts of forms, but soulless, and therefore revolting. We cannot have expression till there is something to be expressed."

Excerpt from Margaret Fuller's American Literature; Its Position in the Present Time, and Prospects for the Future.

"Truth is the nursing mother of genius. No man can be absolutely true to himself, eschewing cant, compromise, servile imitation, and complaisance, without becoming original, for there is in every creature a fountain of life which, if not choked back by stones and other dead rubbish, will create a fresh atmosphere, and bring to life fresh beauty. And it is the same with the nation as with the individual man."

Excerpt from Margaret Fuller's American Literature; Its Position in the Present Time, and Prospects for the Future.

"Whatever the soul knows how to seek, it cannot fail to obtain. This is the law and the Prophets. Knock and it shall be opened; seek and ye shall find. It is demonstrated; it is a maxim."

Excerpt from Margaret Fuller's Women in the Nineteenth Century.

Works Cited

“Margaret Fuller.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, 2014. Web. 18 Dec. 2014.

“Margaret Fuller-Quotes.” The European Graduate School. European Graduate School EGS, 1997-2012. Web. 19 Dec. 2014.

“[Sarah] Margaret Fuller 1810-1850.” American Transcendentalism Web. American

Transcendentalism. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.

“Transcendentalism.” The Literature Network. Jalic Inc., 2011. Web. 19 Dec. 2014.