Most Notable Female Writers from Early America

Early America had some fantastic literature. When schools teach the classics, you’ll find many authors who were white, male, and straight.

We must remember the groundbreaking Early American women who had their works published. Although they were drastically underrepresented, their work still had a profound impact on society.

How did they accomplish this feat? Many of them had to pretend to be white, male, and straight to their publishers.

Here are the women you should get to know better.

1. Judith Sargent Murray

She wrote the feminist essay called “On the Equality of the Sexes” in 1791, right around the age of 40. That was a full year before the famous piece by Mary Wollstonecraft that always gets discussed. Murray is quite rightly recognized today as one of America’s first published feminists.

2. Catharine Maria Sedgwick

Sedgwick was highly prolific for a female writer during her era. She had her short stories published by numerous periodicals, starting in the 1820s. Several novellas, 100+ prose works, eight children’s books, and six novels are part of her biography. At the time, her work was in the same league as Copper and Irving.

3. Anne Bradstreet

Her writing in the early 17th century was some of the first to come from the American colonies. It helped that she came from a wealthy family, and her father had always insisted on giving her a world-class education. It wasn’t considered proper for women to write then, but she didn’t care. In Bradstreet’s eyes, the notion of a woman being inferior was ridiculous.

4. Susanna Rowson

Rowson wrote Charlotte Temple in 1790. It would be the first international bestselling novel to come out of the United States. That status wouldn’t change until another woman, Harrier Beecher Stowe, dethroned the book with Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852. Rowson also worked as an actress, wrote several operas, plays, and novels, and has numerous poetry volumes to her credit.

These notable female writers from Early America changed the course of their lives by refusing to back down. Their public performance inspired private changes in many households, eventually leading society to a place where true equality became possible.