Catherine Maria Sedgwick (1789 - 1867)

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Birthplace: Stockbridge, Berkshire, Massachusetts
Death: Died in West Roxbury, Suffolk, MA, USA
Managed by: Michael Reid Delahunt, art teacher & lexicographer
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About Catherine Maria Sedgwick

Catharine Maria Sedgwick (1789-1867), was an American novelist of what is now (2011) referred to as domestic fiction. In her novel Married or Single (1857), Sedgwick put forth the bold idea that women should not marry if it meant they would lose their self-respect.

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Born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, she was the daughter of a prosperous lawyer and successful politician, Theodore Sedgwick, who later became a judge of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. Catharine Sedgwick was sent to study at a finishing school in Boston, and as a young woman she took charge of a school in Lenox. Her conversion from Calvinism to Unitarianism led her to write a pamphlet denouncing religious intolerance that evolved into her first novel, A New-England Tale.

Catharine Sedgwick's third novel, Hope Leslie (1827), recounted a dramatic conflict between British colonists and Native Americans. The book earned a large readership and made her one of the most talked-about female novelists of the day. Sedgwick's writings involved American settings, combining patriotism with protestations against Puritan oppressiveness. Her topics would become important to the creation of a national literature enhanced through her detailed descriptions of nature. Sedgwick created spirited heroines who, as the focal point of her stories, did not conform to the stereotypical conduct of women at the time. In her later work, Married or Single (1857), she put forth the bold idea that women should not marry if it meant they would lose their self-respect.

Much in demand, from the 1820s to the 1850s Catharine Sedgwick made a good living writing short stories for a variety of periodicals. Following her death in 1867, by the end of the 19th century she had been relegated to near obscurity. Interest in her works and an appreciation of her contribution to American literature was largely stimulated by the advent of low-cost electronic reproductions that became available at the end of the 20th century.

Jeanette S. A. Rice (Sergeant) mentions Catharine Sedgwick in her 1883 memoir "Tales That Have the Rime of Age." Jeanette wrote:

"Miss Catharine Sedgwick, a cousin of our father’s [Dr. Erastus Sergeant Jr.] was very fond of her [Mary Ann Newbury (Sergeant)] and would invite her for long visits, taking her into her own room and bed, and when she would go her rounds among the poor she was always assisting, would take the little girl with her, thereby giving her lessons in practical benevolence. Miss Sedgwick was at this time keeping house for her brother Charles, in the old 'Sedgwick Mansion' in Stockbridge. She was a noble, refined, cultured woman and your mother was very fond of her, naming your sister Kate [Catharine Robb (Newbury)] for her."

She is buried in the family plot in Stockbridge Cemetery, Stockbridge, Massachusetts — known as "the Sedgwick Pie" — one of the more unusual family cemetery plots in the United States, getting its nickname from its shape and layout. The burial sites are arranged around the graves of Theodore Sedgwick (1746 - 1813), patriarch of the family. [See a diagram of the Sedgwick Pie associated with Geni profiles for those who are buried there.]

Catharine Sedgwick's Novels:

   * ''A New-England Tale'' (1822)
   * ''Redwood'' (1824)
   * ''Hope Leslie'' (1827)
   * ''Clarence'' (1830)
   * ''The Twin Lives of Edwin Robbins'' (1832)
   * ''The Linwoods'' (1835)
   * ''Home'' (Boston, 1835)
   * The Poor Rich Man, and the Rich Poor Man (New York, 1837)
   * ''Live and Let Live''

(See Richard Bushman, Refinement in America, 1992, pp. 276-79 for a discussion of three of the above novels)

   * ''Married or Single?'' (1857)

Other Writings:

   * ''Letters from Abroad to Kindred at Home'', in two volumes (1841)

Source: Downloaded 2010 from Wikipedia.

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Catherine Sedgwick's Timeline

1789
December 28, 1789
Stockbridge, Berkshire, Massachusetts
1867
July 31, 1867
Age 77
West Roxbury, Suffolk, MA, USA
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Stockbridge, Berkshire, MA, USA