Ellet, Elizabeth (c. 1812–1877)

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Ellet, Elizabeth (c. 1812–1877)

American author and historian. Name variations: Elizabeth Lummis. Born Elizabeth Fries Lummis in Sodus, New York, probably in 1812 (some sources cite 1818); died in New York on June 3, 1877; daughter of William N. Lummis (a physician) and Sarah (Maxwell) Lummis; attended Female Seminary, Aurora, New York; married William H. Ellet (a doctor and chemistry professor), around 1835.

Selected writings:

Poems, Translated and Original (1835); Characters of Schiller (1839); Scenes in the Life of Joanna of Sicily (1840); Rambles about the Country (1840); Women of the American Revolution (1848); Domestic History of the American Revolution (1850); Evenings at Woodlawn (1849); Family Pictures from the Bible (1849); Watching Spirits (1951); Novelettes of the Musicians (1852); Pioneer Women of the West (1853); Summer Rambles in the West (1853); The Practical Housekeeper (1857); Women Artists in All Ages and Countries (1859); Queens of American Society (1867); (with Mrs. R.E. Mack) Court Circles of the Republic (1869).

The author of 15 books, a volume of poetry, and numerous magazine articles, Elizabeth Lummis Ellet was one of the first female writers to identify the role of women in the early history of the United States. Fluent in French, Italian, and German, Ellet began writing at age 15 and published her first original work, Poems, Translated and Original, in 1835. After her marriage to William H. Ellet, a doctor and professor of chemistry at Columbia College, New York, she moved with him to Columbia, South Carolina. They returned to New York in 1848, where Ellet remained a figure of the New York literary society until her death in 1877.

Notable among Ellet's books is Women of the American Revolution (1848), a three-volume work sketching the lives of 160 women who played a part in, witnessed, or merely commented on the events of the Revolution. A pioneering effort, the book remained a major source through several editions. A subsequent work, Domestic History of the American Revolution (1850), drew from related material. Similar in format to her work on the Revolution was Pioneer Women of the West (1953), and Queens of American Society (1867).

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