Some Notes on Fanny Fern

From Fanny Fern: An Independent Woman by Joyce W. Warren

Grant T. Smith, Ph. D.

American Literature 220

 

Biography:

 

·       Married Charles Harrington Eldredge May 4, 1837.

·       After her husband died she supported herself by sewing, but the most she earned as a seamstress was 75 cents a week.

·       Married Samuel P. Farrington January 17, 1849.

·       Experienced severe emotional abuse from Farrington.

·       Author of Ruth Hall

·       Successful journalist

 

How was Fanny Fern a pioneer in women’s rights?

 

·       In discourse, Fern was a pioneer in the use of the vernacular, satire, and understatement.  Some considered her vulgar.

·       Fern portrayed woman as the self-reliant, independent American individualist.  The woman was represented in heroic terms, not selfless and self-effacing.

·       The “rags to riches” dream could apply to women’s experiences.  Women should earn money for themselves and not depend upon men for financial support.

·       First woman to praise Leaves of Grass.

·       Fern’s works are political and “subversive.”  She wrote on taboo subjects.  She criticized the patriarchy.