Megan Marshall joined fellow authors John Matteson, Jeffrey S. Cramer, and David S. Reynolds in a program titled “Writing Writers’ Lives: Writing the American Renaissance” at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York on March 18, 2013. In this YouTube video, at 21:30 Megan describes going to the Houghton Library at Harvard and opening Margaret Fuller’s journal, recovered from the shipwreck that took Fuller’s life.
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 a rare unpublished letter by Ralph Waldo Emerson concerning the 1850 shipwreck in which his dear friend Margaret Fuller had drowned at age 40.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.”
Megan Marshall’s Margaret Fuller: A New American Life was listed in Publishers Weekly’s “Spring Announcements Top 10” for 2013 in the category of Literary Biographies, Essays, and Criticism.
“Marshall conveys Fuller’s ‘passionate intensity,’ ‘unusual intellect and outsized personality,’ ‘expansive sympathy,’ and extraordinary valor as she illuminates family struggles, social obstacles, and private heartache in conjunction with each phase of Fuller’s phenomenal achievements as an innovative teacher, lecturer, and editor . . . How spectacularly detailed and compassionate Marshall’s chronicle is of Fuller’s scandalous love for an Italian soldier, the birth of their son, her heroic coverage of the 1849 siege of Rome, and her and her family’s tragic deaths when their ship wrecks in sight of the American coast. A magnificent biography of a revolutionary thinker, witness, and writer.”
–Booklist (Starred Review)