Lippincott, Sara Clarke (1823–1904)

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Lippincott, Sara Clarke (1823–1904)

American journalist and lecturer. Name variations: Sara Clarke Lippincott; Sara Jane Lippincott; wrote under Sara J. Clarke and Mrs. L.H. Lippincott; (pseudonym) Grace Greenwood. Born Sara Jane Clarke on September 23, 1823, in Pompey, New York; died on April 20, 1904, in New Rochelle, New York; youngest daughter and of one of 11 children of Thaddeus Clarke (a physician) and Deborah (Baker) Clarke; great-granddaughter of the Rev. Jonathan Edwards; attended school in Rochester, New York; married Leander K. Lippincott, in 1853; children: one daughter, Annie Lippincott .

Selected works:

Greenwood Leaves (1850); History of My Pets (1851); Poems (1851); Greenwood Leaves, Second Series (1852); Recollections of My Childhood, and Other Stories (1852); Haps and Mishaps of a Tour in Europe (1854); Merrie England (1855); A Forest Tragedy (1856); Old Wonder-Eyes (1857); Stories and Legends of Travel and History(1857); Stories from Famous Ballads (1859); Bonnie Scotland (1861); Nelly, the Gypsy Girl (1863); Records of Five Years (1867); Stories and Sights of France and Italy (1867); Stories of Many Lands (1867); New Life in New Lands (1873); Heads and Tails: Studies and Stories of My Pets (1874); Emma Abbott, Prima Donna (1878); (with R.W. Raymond) Treasures from Fairy Land (1879); Queen Victoria: Her Girlhood and Womanhood (1883); Some of My Pets (1884); Stories for Home-Folks, Young and Old (1884); Stories and Sketches (1892).

Sara Clarke Lippincott was born Sara Jane Clarke in 1823 in Pompey, New York, the youngest of 11 children of a physician. She attended school for eight years in Rochester, New York, and at 19 moved with her family to New Brighton, Pennsylvania. Lippincott had her first poetry published in several Rochester newspapers at the age of 13, and from 1844 she was a regular contributor to New Mirror and Home Journal. Adopting the pseudonym "Grace Greenwood," she later published prose and informal letters in Sartain's, Graham's, Union Magazine, and other journals of the day. A collection of her magazine pieces, Greenwood Leaves (1850), was a bestseller, as was its sequel two years later. Starting in

1849, Lippincott also served on the staffs of Godey's Lady's Book, Graham's, Sartain's, the Saturday Evening Post, the abolitionist National Era, and The New York Times.

While making a solo tour of Europe in 1852–53, Lippincott sent back a series of travel pieces and interviews which appeared in National Era and the Saturday Evening Post and were later collected in a very popular book, Haps and Mishaps of a Tour of Europe (1854). Lively in style and frequently humorous, it records Lippincott's visits to historical sites and her meetings with notable literary, artistic, and political figures.

With her husband Leander Lippincott, whom she married in 1853, Lippincott coedited a popular children's magazine, The Little Pilgrim (1853–75). Her juvenile work includes historical sketches based on her early European travels (Merrie England [1855] and Bonnie Scotland [1861]), and stories or "tales," which, according to Susan Sutton Smith in American Woman Writers, are characterized by "heavy morality, sentimentality, and emphasis on sickbed and deathbed scenes." Lippincott's marriage was never happy. It ended in 1876, when Leander was indicted for embezzlement in connection with his job at the Department of the Interior and fled to Europe for good. Lippincott was left as the sole provider for their daughter.

Lippincott's accounts of her travels in Europe during the 1870s and 1880s, produced for the Independent, have stood the test of time. Her later letters from Washington, D.C., also reflect a more substantial journalistic style. Lippincott's "poetry, sentimental tales and sketches, and children's books merit obscurity," writes Smith, "but her strong-minded, firsthand reporting still deserves and rewards attention."


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

Mainiero, Lina, ed. American Women Writers. NY: Frederick Ungar, 1981.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts