Gilman, Caroline Howard (1794–1888)

views updated

Gilman, Caroline Howard (1794–1888)

American author . Name variations: Caroline Howard; (pseudonym) Clarissa Packard. Born Caroline Howard on October 8, 1794, in Boston, Massachusetts; died on September 15, 1888, in Washington, D.C.; daughter of Samuel Howard and Anna (Lillie) Howard; sister of Harriet Howard Fay ; her education was, she noted, "exceedingly irregular, a perpetual passing from school to school, from my earliest memory"; married Samuel Gilman (a Unitarian minister who wrote the poem "Fair Harvard"), in December 1819; children: Caroline Howard Jervey (1823–1877); Eliza Gilman ; as well as five other children, three of whom died in infancy.

Selected works:

Recollections of a Housekeeper (1834); The Lady's Annual Register and Housewife's Memorandum Book (1838); The Poetry of Travelling in the United States (1838); Recollections of a Southern Matron (1838); (editor) Letters of Eliza Wilkinson (1839); Tales and Ballads (1839); Love's Progress (1840); The Rose-Bud Wreath (1841); Oracles from the Poets (1844); Stories and Poems for Children (1844); The Sibyl; or, New Oracles from the Poets (1849); Verses of a Life Time (1849); A Gift Book of Stories and Poems for Children (1850); Oracles for Youth (1852); Recollections of a New England Bride and a Southern Matron (1852); Record of Inscriptions in the Cemetery and Building of the Unitarian… Church… Charleston, S.C. (1860); (with C.H. Jervey) Stories and Poems by Mother and Daughter (1872); The Poetic Fate Book (1874); Recollections of the Private Celebration of the Overthrow of the Tea (1874); (with C.H. Jervey) The Young Fortune Teller (1874).

Author Caroline Howard Gilman, who lost her father when she was two and her mother when she was ten, spent her childhood moving from one Boston neighborhood to the next. She found her first genuine stability after her marriage to Samuel Gilman in 1819, when she settled in Charleston, South Carolina, where her husband became a Unitarian minister. Gilman had seven children, three of whom died in infancy.

Gilman wrote verse as early as age 11, but her writing career was slow to develop. In 1832, she began publishing Rose-Bud, or Youth's Gazette, one of the earliest children's magazines in America. In 1833, it was renamed Southern Rose-Bud and in 1835 became Southern Rose, gradually developing into a broader family magazine before ceasing publication in 1839. Within its pages, Gilman serialized her first novel Recollectionsof a Housekeeper, which appeared in book form in 1834 under the pseudonym Clarissa Packard. The book, written as a first-person narrative, presents the domestic life of a housekeeper in New England and was followed by its counterpart, Recollections of a Southern Matron (1838), which was set on a Southern plantation. In these two books, as in much of her work, Gilman sought to compare the two sections of the country on a domestic level, thereby hoping to ease some of the tensions between North and South on the political front. Unification as a theme also dominates The Poetry of Travelling in the United States (1838), in which Gilman's stated goal is to "present something in the same volume which might prove attractive to both the Northern and Southern reader" and "to increase a good sympathy between different portions of the country."

Once under way, Gilman proved prolific and turned out a variety of work, including novels, short stories, travel books, children's books, poetry (some with her daughter Caroline Howard Jervey ), and a biography of her husband. Susan Sutton Smith , in American Women Writers, calls Gilman "a humorous chronicler of middle-class domesticity, North and South—a sort of early Erma Bombeck ." She adds, however, that as time went on "this New England-born Unitarian gave her sympathies to her adopted South."

Jervey, Caroline Howard (1823–1877)

American novelist. Name variations: (pseudonym) Gilman Glover. Born Caroline Howard Gilman in South Carolina in 1823; died in 1877; daughter of Caroline Howard Gilman (1794–1888) and Samuel Gilman (a Unitarian minister); married; children.

Caroline Howard Jervey's novels include Vernon Grove and Helen Courtenay's Promise.

During the Civil War, Gilman was forced to flee inland to Greenville, South Carolina, where she was active as a Confederate volunteer. When she returned to her home in Charleston in November 1865, she found that most of her personal possessions, including her papers, had been destroyed. She would never write again. Gilman remained in Charleston until 1882, after which she lived with a daughter in Washington, D.C. Caroline Howard Gilman died there on September 15, 1888.


Edgerly, Lois Stiles, ed. Give Her This Day. Gardner, ME: Tilbury House, 1990.

Mainiero, Lina, ed. American Women Writers. NY: Frederick Ungar, 1980.

McHenry, Robert, ed. Famous American Women. NY: Dover, 1983.

suggested reading:

Kelley, Mary. Private Woman, Public Stage. NY: Oxford University Press, 1984.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

About this article

Gilman, Caroline Howard (1794–1888)

Updated About content Print Article