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Roberts, Maggie

ROBERTS, Maggie

Born circa 1840s; died death date unknown

Wrote under: Eiggam Strebor

No biographical information on Maggie Roberts has been found. She wrote in the late 1870s and was greatly influenced by the Civil War. In the introduction to her first book, Home Scenes during the Rebellion (1875), Roberts disclaims any attempt to paint the "brilliant hues of fiction," instead confining herself to "incidents that actually occurred during the Rebellion." These episodic stories of the end of the war and the years afterward are peopled with struggling young widows, families and friends torn apart by opposing loyalties, illiterate blacks confused by their new status, and brave men in uniform. In scenes set in New York, Washington, and New Orleans, Roberts relates the circumstances of young lovers bridging the Mason-Dixon line. Goodwill is established between North and South through the marriages of a "little rebel" and a Yankee captain, a Southern heiress and a Union soldier, among others.

Although herself a Southern sympathizer, Roberts respects the motivations on both sides of the conflict and surveyed the devastating results of the battles. Roberts chronicles these effects in the "home scenes" in which Americans beset by suffering carried on with unbeaten determination. Bravery tempered by faith and fierce loyalty to liberty were the noble principles of both Union and Confederacy, as Roberts paints them.

Roberts takes up the theme of war again in Shadows and Silver Sprays (1875). A majority of these poems are inspired by the events of the Civil War. The frightening spectacle of battle, the death of a young dragoon, the stirring parade of troops, and a sad tribute to the assassinated president are recorded in this collection. Roberts commemorates holidays with rhymed verses and wrote acrostics and whimsical songs. Her prosody relies on a regular rhyme scheme and recurring meter that overwhelms the subject at times.

The Shot Heard Round the World (1876) is a series of poems, from "Britannia's Insult to Columbia" to "America's Centennial," tracing America's history. Famous American victories are depicted as triumphs in the "dread name of Jehovah." Roberts attempts epic scope in this volume, with Revolutionary generals Washington and Lafayette as "god-like heroes," and the allegorical figure of America, girded by truth and justice, rising up from under England's dominion.

Patriotic, religious, and sentimental, Roberts' poetry and fiction are typical of the 19th century. She captured feelings stirred by the strife of Civil War, but often her sentiments and observations were optimistic and simplistic.

Other Works:

Ambition; or, The Launch of a Skiff upon the Sea of Life (1876). Gem of Youth; or, Fireside Tales (1876).

Bibliography:

Reference works:

American Fiction 1851-1875 (1965). American Fiction 1876-1900 (1966). A Dictionary of North American Authors Deceased Before 1950 (1951). Famous Women of History (1895). A Supplement to Allibone's Critical Dictionary (1891).

—ELIZABETH ROBERTS

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