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Caroline M. Kirkland: A literary life

Jana A Bouma, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Having moved from New York to the Michigan frontier, Caroline M. Kirkland drew upon her experiences to write A New Home, Who'll Follow?, or, Glimpses of Western Life (1839), a book that created a literary sensation and launched a twenty-five year literary career. Returning to New York in 1843, widowed in 1846, Kirkland supported herself and four children by working as a writer, journalist, editor, and teacher. She wrote in nearly every genre, publishing more than a dozen books and nearly two hundred magazine pieces. She was the founding editor of a literary magazine, The Union Magazine of Literature and Art. She involved herself in prison reform and, with the start of the Civil War, in the Union cause. This biography examines the life of an educated, middle-class woman, trained to a sense of compassion for the poor and the oppressed, who deputed to herself both the privilege and the responsibility of guiding a still-emergent American culture. Kirkland's writing sets forth a vision of an American society guided by principles of compassion and mutual respect. It also enacts Kirkland's dilemma as a woman both troubled by the injustices of her culture and deeply committed to many traditional white, middle-class, Protestant values and to the privileges of middle-class respectability. ^

Subject Area

Biography|History, United States|Women's Studies|Literature, American

Recommended Citation

Bouma, Jana A, "Caroline M. Kirkland: A literary life" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9973586.