The inspiration for the A More Perfect Union series of historical romances came from reading early American literature. An essay by Judith Sargent Murray, specifically, in which she argued for equal education for girls, and argued against the mistaken notion that females would become sick with too much education. Looking back on how our understanding of human capabilities has morphed over time, it’s difficult to imagine anyone would believe the brain couldn’t learn without making the person—female, that is—ill.
One symptom of this idea is the denial of women to write for publication without being criticized for “manly” behavior. But by the end of the American Revolution women had started to write for publication. Even young slave Phillis Wheatley wrote poems and had them published.
One thing I’ve noticed in my research is the expansion of available written materials for women’s lives over the last 240 years of our country’s existence. What’s interesting to me is that the earliest written record is usually in the form of letters between women and their friends and family. Few colonial women had the time, the materials, or perhaps even the interest in documenting their day-to-day existence in a diary. I can think of one that is famous for the very fact that it was written by a lady in South Carolina during the Revolution. Add to the dearth of materials available the fact that these women often had a sense of privacy they held dear. Which often led women to burn their letters before they died, like Martha Washington is known to have done. (Sadly…)
By the time of the Civil War, however, it’s easier to find the histories of women. For example, both Mary Chesnut, wife of a Confederate general, and Anne Frobel, a Virginia lady, kept diaries specifically to document their lives during the conflict, recognizing that others may actually want to know what they had to endure after the fact. Which they were indeed correct to presume!
I found myself pondering the expansion of women writers of all kinds over the centuries. From writing letters, to keeping diaries, to writing essays and novels and nonfiction books, to the vast array of writing we enjoy today. Even this blog is an example of a woman voicing her thoughts to others. I think all this stems from women having more education, less manual labor around the house, more “leisure” time as a result. (Note that although I’m calling it leisure time, we all know that most people fill every waking hour with something to do!) And of course, the materials are always at hand, whether it’s paper and pen or some form of keyboard. But also because women are people who have a voice and thoughts worth sharing.
So I thank those courageous women like Judith Sargent Murray who stood up to be counted and helped to open the door to the world of writing I enjoy today.
Thanks for stopping by!
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My American Revolution series of romances begins with Emily’s Vow, which was a finalist in the 2015 International Book Awards contest. The stories each feature a strong woman who declares her own independence for a variety of reasons, but ultimately they each find and fall in love with their soul mate. You can purchase the 4-book series for Kindle, or for Nook. They are also available in paperback if you prefer. Happy reading!