March is Women’s History Month, and this year, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the HMH authors who found their voices while involved in the political and literary movements of their time. They ultimately put pen to paper to express their resistance to the status quo.
HMH traces its corporate lineage back to 1832, when William Ticknor and John Allen bought The Old Corner Bookstore in Boston’s Downtown Crossing neighborhood and began to publish a few books. That period of U.S. history was dominated by highly charged debates about slavery, with a strong Abolitionist presence in Boston and other areas of the North. In 1833, Allen and Ticknor published the first American book to call for the immediate emancipation of slaves and full racial equality, and it was written by a woman: An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans by Lydia Maria Child.
Lydia Maria Child
Child’s book was distributed widely and read by thousands; it’s an important moment in both U.S. and women’s history, as well as the history of using the written word to bring about change. An Appeal was more than just opinion; Child conducted a complete analysis of race and slavery from several perspectives: historical, political, economic, legal, and moral. She not only denounced slavery as it existed in the Southern states but also condemned the Northern states for their racial prejudice. One point in her book that particularly angered most of her readers was her belief that marriage between races was completely normal and acceptable.