As a novelist, essayist, dramatist, and poet, Judith Sargent Murray candidly and often humorously asserted her opinions about the social and political conditions of women in late eighteenth-century America. As a committed feminist, she urged American women to enter a "new era in female history," yet published her own writings under a man's name in hopes of more widely disseminating her ideas.
Murray published poems, essays, and plays regularly in the Massachusetts Magazine. Throughout this early work, Murray addressed various controversial topics, including female education, racial prejudice, equality of the sexes, the value of self-esteem, and theories of universal salvation held by her family. In addition to her literary endeavors Murray was a prolific letter-writer, and revealed in her correspondence, as elsewhere, her unwavering commitment to human rights. Also during this period, Murray produced numerous sketches of celebrated female contemporaries and her major work, The Gleaner.
With selections from The Gleaner and Murray's other publications, this latest addition to the Women Writers in English series unearths an important early feminist voice, one that should engage the intellect and imagination of readers both inside and outside the academy.