Saturday, February 12, 2011

Daughters of Genius

I’ve neglected posting as I design poetry workshops and research Maine women. Both work is exciting and one balances the other.

As I work on the America’s Notable Women series, I am intrigued by Daughters of Genius by James Parton, published by Hubbard brothers in 1888. The subtitle is A Series of Sketches of Authors, Artists, Reformers, and Heroines, Queens, Princesses, and Women of Society, Women Eccentric and Peculiar!

Among the 43 profiled women are Queen Victoria, the Bronte sisters, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Joan of Arc, Peggy Shippen (Benedict Arnold’s wife), Empress Josephine (Napoleon’s wife), and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

My favorite profile is that of Louisa May Alcott. It’s filled with her own quotes about writing. On seeing her first stories printed in the Saturday Evening Gazette, she writes, “Only those who have known this experience can understand the intense satisfaction one feels on seeing his first literary efforts actually in print, and the sheet in which they appear always finds a warm place in the heart of the grateful scribbler.”

Daughters of Genius
is an ancestor of the America’s Notable Women series! You can read this book online here.


  1. I don't know if you are the same Joyce Ray, but I believe you were my first grade teacher at McLaughlin Elementary in Carrollton, Texas in 1980. I would love to contact you if you are my former teacher.

    Jennifer Parish Beardsall

  2. My son's Mother-in-law showed me her very lovely copy of this book on Christmas Eve and then insisted that I bring it home to read. I write on Elizabeth Gaskell and was a LITTLE sorry Gaskell received only a passing reference in the Bronte profile, but . . . This is a WONDERFUL collection of profiles. I have already read six of them. Great fun. It may be available in google books but I MUCH prefer the real thing!

  3. Nancy, I agree that reading a book in hand is a much more satisfying experience. I'm glad you have the opportunity to read Daughters of Genius this way. I just love the title! Yes, every editor has choices to make when selecting biographical profiles for a collection. I'm glad to know you write about Elizabeth Gaskell -a writer I don't know much about. Thank you for your comment.


Comments welcome.