Hale, Sarah Josepha

Hale, Sarah Josepha (1788 - 1879)

Index to poems

Sarah Josepha Buell was born October 24, 1788, in Newport, New Hampshire. Self-educated, at 18 she became a schoolteacher in Newport and worked there until 1813, when she married David Hale, a lawyer. At his death nine years later, she was a 34-year-old pregnant mother of four who nonetheless rose to become one of America's most successful women writers. In 1828 she became editor of the Ladies' Magazine, and later as literary editor of its heir, Godey's Lady's Book, the dominant woman's magazine of her time. There she published the work of many American women authors, particularly Lydia M. Child and Lydia H. Sigourney. Many worthy causes earned her loyal support. She founded and presided over the Seamen's Aid Society, and America owes to her campaign its national holiday of Thanksgiving, the final Thursday of November. In 1830 the American composer Lowell Mason, who introduced music into the curriculum of American schools, asked her to write lyrics for him. He chose eight poems in her Poems for our Children and popularized them in his Juvenile Lyre (1830). Three of these, "Mary's Lamb," "Prayer," and "Birds" were for decades published without credit in McGuffey's readers, the most important American school book of the century. Hale's volumes of verse and her well-known anthologies of others' poems are

  • The Genius of Oblivion; and Other Original Poems (Concord, N.H.: Jacob A. Moore, 1823).
  • Poems for Our Children Designed for Families, Sabbath Schools, and Infant Schools (Boston: Marsh, Capen & Lyon, 1830).
  • Flora's Interpreter: or, The American Book of Flowers and Sentiments, ed. Sarah Josepha Hale (Boston: Marsh, Capen and Lyon, 1830), with later editions in 1849, 1856, and 1860.
  • The School Song Book, ed. Sarah Josepha Hale and Lowell Mason (1834), with another edition in 1841.
  • The Ladies' Wreath; a Selection from the Female Poetic Writers of England and America, ed. Sarah Josepha Hale (Boston: Marsh, Capen and Lyon, 1837), revised edition (1839).
  • Alice Ray: A Romance in Rhyme (Philadelphia: A. Scott, 1845).
  • Three Hours; or, The Vigil of Love: and Other Poems (Philadelphia: Carey & Hart, 1848).
  • The Poets' Offering: For 1850, ed. Sarah Josepha Hale (Philadelphia: Grigg, Elliot, 1850), reprinted as A Complete Dictionary of Poetical Quotations (1850) and The Poets' Offering: For 1851 (1851). PN 6082 H34 1852 Robarts Library
  • Love; or, Woman's Destiny. A Poem in Two Parts: With Other Poems (Philadelphia: Duffield Ashmead, 1870).

She was living in Philadelphia by 1841 and completed there her greatest work, the 36-volume Woman's Record: or, Sketches of Distinguished Women (1853-76). She died April 30, 1879, two years after she retired from Godey's Lady's Book. For biographies of Hale, see

  • Fryatt, Norma R. Sarah Josepha Hale: The Life and Times of a Nineteenth Century Career Woman (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1975).
  • Finley, Ruth Ebright. The Ldy of Godey's: Sarah Josepha Hale (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1931). PN 4874 H22R6 1985 Robarts Library
Given Name
Sarah Josepha
Family Name
Birth Date
October 24, 1788
Death Date
April 30, 1879
  • School-teacher

  • writer

Literary Period
Literary Movement