1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Child, Lydia Maria

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CHILD, LYDIA MARIA (1802–1880), American author, was born at Medford, Massachusetts, on the 11th of February 1802. She was educated at an academy in her native town and by her brother Convers Francis (1795–1863), a Unitarian minister and from 1842 to 1863 Parkman professor in the Harvard Divinity School. Her first stories, Hobomok (1824) and The Rebels (1825), were popular successes. She was a schoolmistress until 1828, when she married David Lee Child (1794–1874), a brilliant but erratic Boston lawyer and journalist. From 1826 to 1834 she edited The Juvenile Miscellany, the first children’s monthly periodical in the United States. About 1831 both she and her husband began to identify themselves with the anti-slavery cause, and in 1833 she published An Appeal for that Class of Americans called Africans, a stirring portrayal of the evils of slavery, and an argument for immediate abolition, which had a powerful influence in winning recruits to the anti-slavery cause. Henceforth her time was largely devoted to the anti-slavery cause. From 1840 to 1844, assisted by her husband, she edited the Anti-Slavery Standard in New York City. After the Civil War she wrote much in behalf of the freedmen and of Indian rights. She died at Wayland, Massachusetts, on the 20th of October 1880. In addition to the books above mentioned, she wrote many pamphlets and short stories and The (American) Frugal Housewife (1829), one of the earliest American books on domestic economy, The Mother’s Book (1831), a pioneer cook-book republished in England and Germany, The Girls’ Own Book (1831), History of Women (2 vols., 1832), Good Wives (1833), The Anti-Slavery Catechism (1836), Philothea (1836), a romance of the age of Pericles, perhaps her best book, Letters from New York (2 vols., 1843–1845), Fact and Fiction (1847), The Power of Kindness (1851), Isaac T. Hopper: a True Life (1853), The Progress of Religious Ideas through Successive Ages (3 vols., 1855), Autumnal Leaves (1857), Looking Toward Sunset (1864), The Freedmans Book (1865), A Romance of the Republic (1867), and Aspirations of the World (1878).

See The Letters of Lydia Maria Child, with a Biographical Introduction by J. G. Whittier (Boston, 1883); and a chapter in T. W. Higginson’s Contemporaries (Boston, 1899).