Tuthill, Louisa Huggins (1799–1879)

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Tuthill, Louisa Huggins (1799–1879)

American writer. Born Louisa Caroline Huggins on July 6, 1799, in New Haven, Connecticut; died on June 1, 1879, in Princeton, New Jersey; daughter of Ebenezer Huggins (a merchant) and Mary (Dickerman) Huggins; educated at seminaries for girls in New Haven and Litchfield, Connecticut; married Cornelius Tuthill (an editor), on August 6, 1817 (died 1825); children: Charles Henry (b. 1818); Cornelia Louisa (b. 1820); Mary Esther (b. 1822); Sarah Schoonmaker (b. 1824).

Selected writings:

James Somers: The Pilgrim's Son (published anonymously, 1827); I Will Be a Lady: A Book for Girls (1845); I Will Be a Gentleman: A Book for Boys (1847); History of Architecture from the Earliest Times (1848).

The youngest of seven children of Ebenezer Huggins and Mary Dickerman Huggins , Louisa Huggins Tuthill was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1799. Her father was a successful merchant and her family descended from the city's founder, Theophilus Eaton. Attending local girls' seminaries, Louisa began writing as a child, but later burned her early work and determined not to be an author.

In 1817, she married Cornelius Tuthill who had graduated from Yale with plans to become a lawyer. However, following a religious experience, he studied for the ministry and received his license to preach. After an attack of typhus fever weakened him, he founded a literary magazine, The Microscope, in 1820, and Louisa was soon hosting literary gatherings in her home. Her husband, who encouraged her to write, published one of her manuscripts without her knowledge. It was well received, and helped to break down her resistance to writing. Six months after its inception, however, the magazine went out of business. Cornelius took a position as an editor and was elected to the state legislature, but his activities were increasingly limited by lung disease. After his death in 1825, Louisa was left with a meager estate of $131.62. She decided to take up writing.

In all, Tuthill wrote more than 30 books. Her first works, including James Somers: The Pilgrim's Son (1827), were published anonymously. She wrote several books providing guidance in moral living, manners, aesthetic and spiritual improvement, housekeeping, and child rearing. Later, she wrote History of Architecture from the Earliest Times (1848), which described buildings in the United States and Europe, and was the first history of architecture to be published in the United States. Tuthill also edited two collections of John Ruskin's work: The True and the Beautiful in Nature, Art, Morals, and Religion (1859) and Precious Thoughts: Moral and Religious (1866).

After the death of her mother in 1837, Tuthill embarked on a series of moves. While she was in Hartford, Connecticut, Hezekiah Huntington, a music publisher, encouraged her in her writing career; after his death, she relocated to Roxbury, Massachusetts, and in 1847 moved to Philadelphia, then to New York City, and finally to Princeton, New Jersey, where she died at age 79. She was buried next to her husband in Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven.


James, Edward T., ed. Notable American Women, 1607–1950. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1971.

Read, Phyllis J., and Bernard L. Witlieb. The Book of Women's Firsts. NY: Random House, 1992.

Kelly Winters , freelance writer

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