A Woman to Know: Julia Ward Howe

Poetry was her path to discovering her real vocation: to be a leader, a speaker and a campaigner, and to find her public voice. — writer Elaine Showalter, on Julia Ward Howe


(photograph by J.E. Purdy, 1902, Library of Congress. image via Simon & Schuster)


She's best known for writing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," which for an entire century has inspired schoolchildren everywhere to hold grapes of wrath and fateful lightning dear to their little patriotic hearts.

But in her 90-plus years of life, beyond the trampled vintage and terrible swift swords, Julia Ward Howe also launched a vibrant activist career, advocating for abolition causes and women's liberation in an America still recovering from the Civil War.

As biographer Elaine Showalter describes, Julia's life began anew after her controlling husband's death in 1876: "She had an amazing public life, and then her second life, after he died and after the women's movement — it took her some place totally different." Whereas Julia had previously published much of her poetry without her husband's knowledge, as a widow she was empowered to travel the country, publishing her own literary journal, Northern Lights, and campaigning for women's suffrage.

I'm giving away four copies of Elaine Showalter's biography, The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe. All you have to do is solve the ~Julia Ward Howe~ trivia below.
Question: In the United States, Julia Ward Howe suggested the idea for which well-known holiday? Reply to this newsletter with your answer and voila! You're entered to win. Add to your reading list:

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