The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Fuller, Sarah Margaret

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FULLER, Sarah Margaret (Marchioness Ossoli). American author: b. Cambridgeport, Mass., 23 May 1810; d. off Fire Island Beach, 16 July 1850. She derived her first teaching from her father, studied Latin at the age of six and injured her health by over-application. At 13 she was a pupil at the famous school of Dr. Park, in Boston, where she began the study of Greek. Thence she went to a school at Groton. On the sudden death of her father, she vowed that she would do her whole duty toward her brothers and sisters, and she faithfully kept the vow, teaching school in Boston and Providence, and afterward taking private pupils. During the transcendental period she knew intimately the leading minds of the time — Emerson, Hawthorne, Ripley, Channing, Clarke, Hedge — and in the company of such was very brilliant, meeting them as equals. She first met Emerson in 1835, and the next year visited him at Concord. She went occasionally to Brook Farm, though never fully believing in the success of that experiment, and never living there. She held conversations in Boston, conducted the Dial, translated from the German, projected works and wrote ‘A Summer on the Lakes,’ the record of a season spent in travel in 1843. In December 1844 she went to New York as literary critic of the Tribune, then under the management of Horace Greeley. While in New York she visited the prisons, penitentiaries, asylums, theatres, opera-houses, and lecture-rooms, writing about everything in the Tribune and doing much to move the level of thought on philanthropic, literary and artistic matters. She pursued this task unremittingly for about 20 months, after which, having saved a little money, she went to Europe in 1846. There she met the foremost people in the literary, social, political and reformatory world, spent the summer and autumn in travel, established herself for a time at Rome early in 1847, visited Switzerland and northern Italy and returned to Rome in the autumn. In December 1847 she was married to Giovanni Angelo, Marquis Ossoli, and entered with zeal into the Italian struggle for independence in 1849. Her conduct during the siege of the city by the French was of the most heroic, disinterested, humane and tender kind. She was a friend of Massini. On the capture of Rome in June 1849, she and her husband took refuge in Rieti, in the mountains of the Abruzzi, and after some months removed to Florence, which they later left for Leghorn, whence passage for America was taken on the Elizabeth that sailed 17 May 1850. The voyage ended in disaster; the vessel being driven ashore off Fire Island on 16 July 1850. The body of the child was borne ashore lifeless and neither father nor mother was heard of more. She wrote a good deal for magazines during her active literary period. Her collected works was edited by her brother, Rev. Arthur B. Fuller (Boston 1855). There are lives by Emerson, Clarke and Channing. There is also a memoir by Julia Ward Howe (in the ‘Eminent Women Series,’ Boston 1883) and one by Thomas W. Higginson (in ‘American Men of Letters Series,’ ib. 1884). Consult also Braun, F. A., ‘Margaret Fuller and Goethe’ (New York 1910); Dall, Mrs. C. H., (ed.) ‘Margaret and Her Friends’ (Boston 1895); Goddard, H. C., ‘Studies in New England Transcendentalism’ (New York 1908); Macphail, A., ‘Essays in Puritanism’ (Boston 1905).