The New International Encyclopædia/Fuller, Sarah Margaret
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Fuller, Sarah Margaret
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FULLER, Sarah Margaret (Ossoli) (1810-50). An American critic and essayist, born at Cambridgeport, Mass., May 23, 1810. The eldest of the eight children of Timothy Fuller, a Massachusetts lawyer and politician, she was strenuously educated by her father, by Dr. Park of Boston, and in the Misses Prescott's School of Groton, beginning Latin at six and Greek at thirteen, and permanently injuring her health by over-application. On the death of her father (1835) she supported her brothers and sisters by public and private teaching in Boston and Providence. She was a frequent guest at Brook Farm, though never sharing its enthusiasms, held intellectual conversations in Boston, conducted the Transcendental organ, The Dial (1840-42), made translations from the German, and published in 1844 her first volume, Summer on the Lakes, the record of a season of travel in 1843. In December (1844) she went to New York as literary critic of the Tribune, taking active part in the philanthropic, literary and artistic life of the city. In 1846 she went to Europe, residing for some time at Rome, where she married (December, 1847) Giovanni Angelo, Marquis d'Ossoli, by whom she had one child. She took an active part in the Italian struggle for independence, and served heroically in the hospitals during the French siege of Rome. On its capture (July, 1849) she took refuge with her husband first in the mountains of Abruzzi, then at Florence, and on May 17, 1850, sailed for America, but with her husband and son was drowned off Fire Island Beach just as they were approaching New York on July 16.
Her life falls naturally into three periods. Till 1844 she lived an intense life seeking self-culture in the exciting stimulation of the Transcendental circle. The two years from 1844 till her visit to Italy are those of original literary production. Women in the Nineteenth Century (1844) and Papers on Literature and Art (1846) are its monuments. Her activities in Rome found a literary expression in a book on the Roman Republic, the manuscript of which was lost with her. With all her tact and brilliancy, she was not an original genius; she needed the inspiration of an audience, talking better than she wrote. Her Letters are, therefore, the most readable of her works, and the position that she held in Boston and in New York is hardly to be understood from her writings. It was a natural instinct that led her to select for translation Eckermann's Conversations with Goethe (1839) and The Correspondence of Fräulein Günderode and Bettina von Arnim (1840-42). The impression that she made upon the circle of her intimates is attested by three notable biographies, for which consult: Emerson, Clarke, and Channing (Boston, 1852); Julia Ward Howe (ib., 1883); and Thomas Wentworth Higginson (ib., 1884). There is also a Memoir by her brother, Arthur B. Fuller (Boston, 1855).