Margaret Fuller: A New American Life

Written by Megan Marshall
Review by Caroline Wilson

Towering feminist, gifted writer, social crusader, and luminary of the Transcendentalists, Margaret Fuller was not the typical 19th-century woman. Rigorously schooled at home by her absentee and somewhat narcissistic father, she seemed to feel her uniqueness, knowing by the age of nine that she was set apart from the other girls in her “region” of Cambridgeport, Massachusetts.

Margaret ultimately became a celebrated journalist and the first editor of the Transcendentalist journal The Dial. Later she joined the staff of the New York Tribune. She was the paper’s first female correspondent when she moved to Europe. She weathered the fall of the Roman Republic, and became the lover of one of its patriots before fleeing Italy in 1850, only to perish in a shipwreck off of Fire Island in New York some weeks later.

Megan Marshall’s biography of Margaret Fuller is thoroughly researched. She not only accessed the Fuller family papers, but also Margaret’s correspondence, works in print, and her final journal. Marshall’s original aim was to focus on Margaret’s public life but admits it was impossible to separate it from Fuller’s unorthodox private life. The result is an engaging biography that will appeal to a wide range of readers.