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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XIII. Later Essayists

§ 12. Julia Ward Howe

Hale is not the only American author whose fame is intimately inwoven with a single piece of work. The same period in our history that brought forth his masterpiece is responsible for the immortal poem to which the marching feet and the dedicated hearts of myriad soldiers kept time as they swept on to bloody struggles with The Battle Hymn of the Republic on their lips. But Julia Ward Howe (1819–1910) was not alone the creator of the most potent of our battle poems. Her place is secure in the record of many liberalizing movements, especially those which had to do with the social and political elevation of her own sex; and, beyond this, she was the author of delightful papers ranging in subject matter from a paper on Aristophanes, prepared as a lecture at the Concord School of Philosophy, to illuminating studies of social manners—such as The Salon in America and Is Polite Society Polite?—full of intelligent criticism and that discriminating humour which is yet too serious to indulge in any easy satire. Her achievement, as a whole, entitles her to rank as the most notable woman of letters born and bred in the metropolis of America; although another woman belonging, like Julia Ward Howe, to an old New York family displayed at least equal intellectual rarity.