New book on Judith Sargent Murray's 18th-century letters published and available through the author's website
"The Letters I Left Behind, Judith Sargent Murray Papers, Letter Book 10" by Bonnie Hurd Smith has recently been published and is available through the Judith Sargent Murray Society's website at: www.hurdsmith.com/judith for $40.00 plus shipping.
The 476-page hard cover book contains:
266 letters written by Judith Sargent Murray between the years 1796 and 1799, primarily from her home in Boston, when she was at the height of her literary fame, and writing to such luminaries as John Adams and George Washington
an extensive index of the letters
a lengthy biographical introduction of Murray
related introductory materials and appendices
Visit the "press kit" section of the Society's website to learn more about the book's content.
Historian Susan Branson has called the Gloucester, Massachusetts, native Judith Sargent Murray (1751-1820) "the most prominent female magazine writer of the day" as Murray used this appropriate vehicle to discuss female equality and abilities, education, economic independence, and more general subjects such as federalism, citizenship, virtue, and war. She created a public voice for herself, and was determined to help "form a new era in female history" as Judith predicted in one of her essays about post-Revolutionary America.
Murray has remained relatively unknown, however, especially to popular audiences due to the supposed "fact" that her personal papers were destroyed long ago. However, the 20 volumes of letter books she created, spanning the years 1765 to 1818, were discovered in 1984 by the Rev. Gordon Gibson and published on microfilm by the Miss. Department of Archives and History at Jackson in 1989.
While Murray's essays and three-volume book (The Gleaner, 1798) have been reissued by the Judith Sargent Murray Society (essays) and Union College Press (The Gleaner) for researchers to study, Murray's personal letters finally offer a glimpse into the thoughts and daily life of a remarkable and spirited American "founding mother."
Bonnie Hurd Smith is presently engaged in a multiyear project to transcribe, index, and publish in print all 20 of Murray's letter books to make the material more readily available and to restore Murray's voice to the American story.
Already, Smith's transcriptions have been used by David McCullough ("John Adams"), Cokie Roberts ("Founding Mothers"), Carol Berkin ("Revolutionary Mothers"), and Susan Branson ("These Fiery, Frenchified Dames").
Bonnie Hurd Smith
15 Winter Street #2
Salem, MA 01970
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