Monday, August 28, 2006

Julia Ward Howe - Winner, Biography or Autobiography, 1917

Julia Ward Howe, 1819-1910
by Laura E. Richards (1850-1943) and Maud Howe Elliott (1854-1948)
assisted by Florence Howe Hall (1845-1922)
Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1915
Volumes I & II

I began this book, as I will with many of them, having no idea who Julia Ward Howe was. It was fascinating to discover her as I read the books. I always love to read things with first hand accounts, and because she kept extensive diaries, there was plenty for her two daughters who wrote the book to quote from.
In case you don't know who Julia Ward Howe is, she is the woman who wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic. She was also an outspoken proponent of full suffrage for women. She lived in Boston, but spent much of her time travelling the country and the world speaking, reading her poetry, and preaching in Universalist churches.
The book was quite an easy read, but a little long. There were two volumes and each chapter in each volume covered sometimes only 1 or 2 years of the 93 she lived. This sometimes caused it to be a bit tedious.
I think the thing that interested me most was the freedom she had to travel and speak as a woman in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Her husband died many years before she did, so she did much of her travelling with a daughter or granddaughter by her side. Not only did she visit a large part of the United States during her lifetime, but she also travelled extensively in Europe on multiple occasions and even visited Egypt and Israel.
My husband and I will soon be visiting Boston, so I look forward to visiting some of the homes Julia Ward Howe lived in and seeing Faneuil Hall where she often spoke on the many issues of the day that burdened her.
If you are a fan of biography, I recommend the book. It is an easy read and provides a wonderful glimpse into early 19th century society and politics.

1 comment:

RC said...

i would have no idea who julia ward howe was without you telling me about this pulitzer prize winning book.

Now 2 volumes...that sounds like a lot of work. Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge here.

It's excellent.