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Margaret Fuller: A New American Lifeby Megan Marshall
2014 Pulitzer Prize for Biography
Synopses & Reviews
From an early age, Margaret Fuller provoked and dazzled New England's intellectual elite. Her famous Conversations changed women's sense of how they could think and live; her editorship of the Transcendentalist literary journal the Dial shaped American Romanticism. Now, Megan Marshall, whose acclaimed The Peabody Sisters “discovered” three fascinating women, has done it again: no biography of Fuller has made her ideas so alive or her life so moving.
Marshall tells the story of how Fuller, tired of Boston, accepted Horace Greeley's offer to be the New-York Tribune's front-page columnist. The move unleashed a crusading concern for the urban poor and the plight of prostitutes, and a late-in-life hunger for passionate experience. In Italy as a foreign correspondent, Fuller took a secret lover, a young officer in the Roman Guard; she wrote dispatches on the brutal 1849 Siege of Rome; and she gave birth to a son.
Yet, when all three died in a shipwreck off Fire Island shortly after Fuller's fortieth birthday, the sense and passion of her life's work were eclipsed by tragedy and scandal. Marshall's inspired account brings an American heroine back to indelible life.
"Thoroughly absorbing, lively....Fuller, so misunderstood in life, richly deserves the nuanced, compassionate portrait Marshall paints." Boston Globe
“Megan Marshall’s brilliant Margaret Fuller brings us as close as we are ever likely to get to this astonishing creature. She rushes out at us from her nineteenth century, always several steps ahead, inspiring, heartbreaking, magnificent.” Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity
"Shaping her narrative like a novel, Marshall brings the reader as close as possible to Fuller’s inner life and conveys the inspirational power she has achieved for several generations of women." New Republic
“Pitches Ms. Marshall into the front rank of American biographers....Margaret Fuller is as seductive as it is impressive....It delivers a lovely and bumpy coming-of-age story, one of the best such stories nineteenth-century America has to offer.” New York Times
The award-winning author of The Peabody Sisters takes a fresh look at the trailblazing life of a great American heroine — Thoreau's first editor, Emerson's close friend, first female war correspondent, passionate advocate of personal and political freedom.
Pulitzer Prize finalist Megan Marshall recounts the trailblazing life of Margaret Fuller: Thoreau’s first editor, Emerson’s close friend, daring war correspondent, tragic heroine. After her untimely death in a shipwreck off Fire Island, the sense and passion of her life’s work were eclipsed by scandal. Marshall’s inspired narrative brings her back to indelible life.
Whether detailing her front-page New-York Tribune editorials against poor conditions in the city’s prisons and mental hospitals, or illuminating her late-in-life hunger for passionate experience — including a secret affair with a young officer in the Roman Guard — Marshall’s biography gives the most thorough and compassionate view of an extraordinary woman. No biography of Fuller has made her ideas so alive or her life so moving.
About the Author
Megan Marshall is the author of The Peabody Sisters, which won the Francis Parkman Prize, the Mark Lynton History Prize, the Massachusetts Book Award in Nonfiction, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in biography and memoir. Her essays and reviews have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The Atlantic, and Slate. A recipient of Guggenheim and NEH fellowships, Marshall teaches narrative nonfiction and the art of archival research in the MFA program at Emerson College.
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