Off the Shelf: Christine by Laura Curtis Bullard

Bullard Read the beginning of the Introduction from Christine: Or Woman's Trials and Triumphs by Laura Curtis Bullard, edited and with an introduction by Denise M. Kohn:

"When Laura Curtis Bullard wrote Christine: Or Woman’s Trials and Triumphs she created one of antebellum America’s most radical heroines: a woman’s rights leader. Through the creation of her unconventional title character, Curtis Bullard gave voice to her own support for female suffrage, careers, and economic independence, which was termed the “woman’s rights” movement in the mid-nineteenth century and was considered scandalous, even sinful, by many Americans.1 Curtis Bullard was twenty-five when Christine, her second novel, was published in 1856, and she was the editor of a newspaper for women, the Ladies’ Visitor. She continued her career after she was married and became a mother, and in 1870 she succeeded Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony as editor of the suffrage newspaper the Revolution, publishing essays about the social problems caused by women’s inequality that she had earlier dramatized in Christine.

Christine is written in the tradition of the bildungsroman and the reform novel of the nineteenth century. In an era when women were considered to “unsex” themselves by public speaking, Christine sympathetically portrays a young woman who defies her family to join the lecture circuit for female suffrage and education. Curtis Bullard depicts her heroine’s public career as a natural extension of women’s charitable and reform work in the nineteenth century, thus asserting the “true womanhood” of woman’s rights leaders at a time when they were reviled by many middle-class Americans.

While Curtis Bullard was editor of the Revolution, she was accused of adultery in the New York press, and the rumors resurfaced again as part of the notorious Beecher-Tilton trial. She spent her later years in less publicly prominent ways, writing essays, translating novels, and maintaining her friendships in the transatlantic literary world.

Although she had once been well known, Curtis Bullard and her work fell from history, and she was relegated to the level of footnote, if mentioned at all, in American literary and political histories. Until this edition, Christine had remained out of print since it was first published in 1856, and little biographical information had been known about Curtis Bullard.2

Laura Curtis Bullard (1831–1912) published her first novel, Now-a-days, in 1854. The following year, she founded and edited her own newspaper, The Ladies Visitor, and Drawing Room Companion, and in 1856 she published Christine. She later succeeded Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton as editor of the radical suffrage newspaper The Revolution. Denise M. Kohn is an associate professor of English at Baldwin-Wallace College. She is the coeditor of Transatlantic Stowe: Harriet Beecher Stowe and European Culture.

To read a longer excerpt or to purchase Christine, visit,674626.aspx.

Please refer to the print edition for notes 1 and 2.

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