chapter  3
Frances Fuller Victor’s Promotion of Strong, Independent Womanhood: Women and Marriage Reconstructed in “The New Penelope”
ByJUNE JOHNSON BUBE
Pages 28

In 1874, Frances Fuller Victor made this bold declaration of women’s equality in the New Northwest, a suffragist newspaper published in Portland, Oregon. She had traveled far geographically and experientially from her early life in the Midwest and East. Born in 1826 in Rome, in western New York, Frances Fuller was the eldest of five daughters. During her childhood and youth, her family moved to Erie, Pennsylvania, and then to Wooster, Ohio-both towns along stage lines important for trade, travel, and her father’s business as an innkeeper. Frances and her sisters were educated at a female seminary in Wooster, and they

also attended political and social debates at the Wooster Lyceum. By her mid-teens, Frances was publishing poems and an occasional story in Ohio weekly papers. Her sister Metta, five years younger, also displayed talent as a poet and fiction writer. As young women, both sisters became regular contributors to Nathaniel Willis’s New York Home Journal, a popular mid-nineteenth-century women’s magazine. In the early 1850s, to help support the family after their father’s early death, both sisters worked as assistant editors of the Monthly Hesperian and OddFellows’ Literary Magazine in Detroit. Their reputations as talented, but nevertheless conventional, poets continued to grow, and in 1849, their poetry was anthologized in Rufus Griswold’s The Female Poets of America; later in 1860, William Goggeshall included their work in Poets and Poetry of the West.2