The Limits of Sisterhood: The Beecher Sisters on Women's Rights and Woman's Sphere

Jeanne Boydston, Author University of North Carolina Press $0 (369p) ISBN 978-0-8078-1768-1
This is a fascinating account of the three Beecher sisters, participants in the debate concerning women's rights that emerged in the wake of the Civil War. As the authors deftly demonstrate, the siblings influenced each other throughout their lives, and shared a commitment to female power, although their visions often differed. Daughters of the eminent minister Lyman Beecher, they inherited his call to actively promote social justice as well as his desire for prominence in society. Each sister in her own wayCatharine Esther Beecher as an educator and writer of advice literature; Harriet Beecher Stowe as an author of novels like the abolitionist Uncle Tom's Cabin; and Isabella Beecher Hooker, as an active suffragistdevoted much of her adult life to elevating women's status and expanding women's influence in 19th century America. Their numerous skillfully selected and edited letterswritten to others and to each otherreflect their eloquence, intelligence as well as their heartfelt pain in attempting to resolve the conflicts between motherhood and career, a dilemma that resonates today. Boydston is a history professor at Rutgers; Kelley, a history professor at Dartmouth, wrote Private Woman, Public Stage: Literary Domesticity in Nineteenth-Century America; and Margolis has edited the papers of Isabella Beecher Hooker. Illustrated. (April)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
Paperback - 393 pages - 978-0-8078-4207-2
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