Lydia M. Child – 19th Century Abolitionist,
Suffragette, Author, Great Woman of History
Lydia Marie Child was among the most influential authors and abolitionists of 19th Century America. She was born in 1802, in Medford, Massachusetts, the youngest of six children. Her first novel, Hobomok, was written in just six weeks at the tender age of 22, and was published in 1824 to great literary acclaim. Her second novel, The Rebels, or Boston Before the Revolution, came out a year later, in 1825. From 1826 to 1834, she edited and published the popular children’s periodical Juvenile Miscellany. In 1828, she married lawyer David Child, and together they became champions for the rights and freedom of both American Indians and enslaved Africans. She published a number of “advice books” including The American Frugal Housewife, The Mother’s Book and The Little Girl’s Own Book, but her best known work remains her 1833 abolitionist treatise An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans, which influenced many to reject the evils of slavery, but which also sabotaged her popularity as a novelist and children’s author. Throughout the Civil war, she worked tirelessly for the anti-slavery cause. When the war ended and the slaves were freed, she published The Freedmen’s Book at her own expense, and soon followed it with a novel, Romance of the Republic, that focused on racial justice and interracial love. In her final years, she turned her attention once again to the plight of the American Indian, publishing An Appeal for the Indians in 1868 and Aspirations for the World in 1878. Lydia Maria Child died in 1880, on her farm in Wayland, Massachusetts.
Originally published in 1832, this extraordinary manual for the homemaker of modest means is far more than a mere “cookbook.” In an age before electricity, refrigeration or any other modern convenience, the fine art of storing, preparing and serving food presented difficulties unimagined in our time, challenges our forebears mastered with ingenuity, hard work, the inherited knowledge of generations past, and the sheer American pluck required to make the cheerful best of any social or economic situation. Also included are instructions for making soap, beer and wine, for repairing worn clothing and furniture, for enduring poverty, and even for rightly educating one’s daughters. A rich treasure trove of practical frontier knowledge, Lydia M. Child’s The American Frugal Housewife is an essential volume for contemporary homesteaders, antiquarian collectors, and anyone who longs for a firsthand taste of real American history.