Scandalous Women is pleased to welcome author Debra Brenegan to the blog today to talk about Fanny Fern, once one of the highest paid columnists in the United States, making $100 a week way back in 1855.
Talk about a scandalous woman! Fanny Fern helped define the term. And the sad thing is that most people have never heard of her. I had never heard of her either until one day, in graduate school, I took a nineteenth-century American Literature class with a professor who told me, “I know a writer you’re just going to love.” This writer, Fanny Fern, wasn’t on our reading list that semester, so, he added her book, Ruth Hall, to the reading list of a course I took with him the next semester. And, he was right – I adored her!
Fanny Fern was the highest-paid, most-popular writer of her era. She served as a literary mentor to Walt Whitman, earned the respect of Nathaniel Hawthorne and was friends with Harriet Beecher Stowe. Fern’s personal life was a rollercoaster of highs and lows. She was widowed, escaped an abusive second marriage, and then married a third man, eleven years her junior.
You can learn more about Fanny Fern, her life, and the book Shame the Devil on my website: http://www.debrabrenegan.com/.
Have you ever heard of Fanny Fern? If you haven’t (and many people haven’t), why do you suppose that is?