Emerson, Eleanor, 1777-1808
Emerson, a New Englander, was born at Northbridge, Mass. one of twelve children of Martha and Thomas Read. She had little education and was a sickly child. At the age of fourteen, she began "school-keeping." She taught English, religion, and plain sewing but disapproved of embroidery. Her account of her religious life, published in Boston, 1809, begins with a description of her shame at denying her beliefs, her anger and envy that grew with the belief that her sister was saved while she was damned, and her attacks on the "mock kindness" of those around her. Later in the book, she states that religious joy transformed her view of others so that she could recognize "the finger of God in every feature of every face." She married the widower of her friend Nancy Eaton in 1803 and spent much of her time reading. She also published poems and biographical sketches in the Massachusetts Missionary Magazine. She died of consumption (tuberculosis) in 1808, shortly after giving birth to a daughter.
Blain, Virginia, Patricia Clements, and Isobel Grundy. The Feminist Companion to Literature in English. London: Batsford, 1990. 342 - 343.
Written by Stephen Rachman