Author Megan Marshall read excerpts from her new book, Margaret Fuller: A New American Life at the Concord Free Public Library on April 5. She gave an animated account of Fuller’s years in Rome, where Fuller, already respected as one of America’s leading intellectuals, “crossed the line” from the world of ideas into the world of life-changing experiences in a passionate encounter with the young Italian soldier who would become her husband.
160 people packed the Library’s rotunda to hear Marshall’s account, and lingered for an hour afterward to buy books, meet the author and get autographs, socialize, and enjoy sumptuous Italian-themed refreshments at a reception in the Reference Room. One audience member blogged about his experience under the title “Sex and the Single Transcendentalist.”
The Transcendentalism Council of First Parish is grateful to our co-sponsors: the William Munroe Special Collections at the Concord Free Public Library, The Thoreau Society, and Thoreau Farm: Birthplace of Henry David Thoreau. (Event photo by Deborah Bier.)
In the March 23, 2013 New York Times, biographer Megan Marshall writes: “[A man] approached me after a speech I’d given to tell me about . . . a rare unpublished letter by Ralph Waldo Emerson concerning the 1850 shipwreck in which his dear friend Margaret Fuller had drowned at age 40. The tragedy was among the most famous in American literary history. Fuller, a pioneering feminist and foreign correspondent for Horace Greeley’s New-York Tribune, was returning from Italy with her much younger husband, a soldier in the Roman Guard, and their 2-year-old son, conceived out of wedlock . . . When the trio drowned, just 300 yards offshore at Fire Island, the triple-masted Elizabeth driven into a sandbar by a ferocious storm, they were widely mourned. Emerson sent Henry David Thoreau, then in 1850 still a little known writer, to help search for the bodies . . . The four pages that I held in my hands brought together in a moment of palpable crisis three 19th-century geniuses whose ideas still challenge us today.”
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Biographer Megan Marshall takes the occasion of the anniversary of Margaret Fuller’s first meeting with her Italian lover Giovanni Ossoli to give an account of Fuller’s years in revolutionary Rome as war correspondent, hospital director, and romantic. The event celebrates the publication of Marshall’s Margaret Fuller: A New American Life.