Above: Godey's Portrait, 1848
The Library Company of Philadelphia
Below: From Sketches of All
Distinguished Women (1855)
Clifton Waller Barrett Collection
| Sarah Jane Clarke took the name "Grace Greenwood" in 1844, when at age 21 she became one of the country's first paid woman newspaper correspondents. She became Sarah Lippincott in 1853, when she married, but professionally she continued to sign herself with her alliterative nom de plume throughout a career that lasted over half a century.|
She published books in many genres, including poetry and children's literature, but was best known for her letters, which in the 1840s appeared in a number of periodicals, including the New York Mirror, the Home Journal, Graham's, The Saturday Evening Post and Godey's Lady's Magazine. Godey made her an editorial associate, but fired her in 1850 after Southern subscribers objected to the fact that she also published letters in The National Era, the Washington anti-slavery weekly edited by Gamaliel Bailey.
The Era of course is where Uncle Tom's Cabin first appeared. When Stowe wrote Bailey in March, 1851, to announce her plans for a story dramatizing the evils of slavery, she specifically cited the value of Greenwood's recent letters to the paper. Thus the selections below are all drawn from material published or reprinted by Bailey, during the period immediately before Stowe's novel began developing in her imagination. The first piece is an example of Greenwood's fiction, but the rest are selected from her letters. It's interesting to read these in order, and watch as "Grace Greenwood" moves from sentimental tourist toward political polemicist. It may have been that process that Stowe, as she girded her sensibility to speak out forcefully against a social injustice, found so inspiring. (You can read what Greenwood wrote Bailey and his readers about Uncle Tom's Cabin in the archive's NOTICES SECTION.)