Maria Mitchell In Her Own Words

Dec. 21. {1854} I have just put down Mrs. Stowe’s first volume of “Sunny Memoirs” and true to my general theory of preferring people to scenery I prefer this to the second.  I read the 2nd some time since, when that was within my grasp and the first was not.  All the way through the second, I felt that I could have written as good a book.  I give up the idea now, I could not have written so unobjectionable a book and at the same time used so much independent judgement . . .

I only picked this quote really for the fact that I wanted others to have a better glimpse of what Maria Mitchell read.  Likely, it came from the Atheneum where she was librarian and the first volume may have literally not been in her grasp because someone had checked it out from the Atheneum.  I think many people think of her only reading books of natural science, mathematics, and astronomy.  Not so.  She read fiction, and memoirs such as this.  This may have been part of her thinking of traveling – something that would come just a few years later – as these two Harriet Beecher Stowe volumes are travel memoirs.

JNLF