Paula Blanchard wrote a highly detailed biography of Margaret Fuller, a member of the literary, philosophical, and spiritual Transcendentalist movement of mid-19th century New England. The movement is best remembered as the group which counted America’s best loved philosophers of nature, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau as members. Fuller is a less remembered member of the group probably because her involvement was, according to Blanchard, oriented around conversation rather than writing. Emerson and Thoreau had not only attained a certain status as American philosophers, but also their writings did much to found a uniquely American literature. Fuller's own writings were often relatively short pieces of social criticism, many of which were revolutionary calls for increased rights for women.
Fuller's output was lighter on textual production than some of the other transcendentalist, although she was editor of one of the major organs of the movement’s thought, The Dial, a periodical where she published much of her own writing. Blanchard's text is a very detailed account of Fuller's life discussing her strict upbringing, oriented around her education, by her politician father, Timothy Fuller. her background directed her into an adult career as a strict schoolteacher who was nevertheless loved by her students. She then went on to enter the Transcendentalist circle in which she formed non-conformist beliefs and developed a strain of social commentary which blossomed into the fight for equal rights for women in America. Fuller’s story as told by Blanchard ends with the great woman embarking on a European tour with little money, and ending up with a family - to her death on the shoals the American east coast upon her return to her homeland.
Fuller seems entrenched in the Transcendentalist movement, which led her to the cause of women’s rights and to become a pioneering mind in early American feminism. I don’t know much about this volume’s author, Paula Blanchard, aside from that she has written biographies of other great women, such as the Canadian painter Emily Carr and American author Sarah Orne Jewett.