Married or Single?
Catharine Maria Sedgwick
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
eBook ISBN: 9780803274976
Married or Single?, published in 1857, was Catharine Maria
Sedgwick’s final novel and a fitting climax to the career of one of
antebellum America’s first and most successful woman writers.
Insisting on women’s right to choose whether to marry, Married or
Single? rejects the stigma of spinsterhood and offers readers a
wider range of options for women in society, recognizing their need
and ability to determine the course of their lives.
Sedgwick’s touching, witty, and shrewdly observant novel centers on
Grace Herbert, a New York City socialite who must negotiate the
marriage market and also learn to develop her own character and
take control of her own destiny. The story merges a wide range of
popular American literary forms—including the seduction novel, the
conversion narrative, the novel of education, and social reform
fiction—and provides a window on many of the cultural and political
anxieties of the 1850s beyond marriage, including immigration,
slavery, and urban poverty. Sedgwick’s lifelong concern with
women’s duties to the nation as citizens is demonstrated through
her depiction of exemplary women of various backgrounds and
circumstances who illustrate the idea that becoming a worthy human
being is more important than becoming a wife, especially in a
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Catharine Maria Sedgwick (1789-1867) was born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Her career spanned more than fifty years, six major novels, and more than one hundred short stories. Deborah Gussman is an associate professor of literature at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. She is a founding and executive board member of the Catherine Maria Sedgwick Society.
“A modern edition of Sedgwick’s final novel is long overdue, and Deborah Gussman is its ideal editor. Gussman’s introduction will reflect and forward current scholarly concerns.”—Mary Kelley, author of Learning to Stand and Speak: Women, Education, and Public Life in America’s Republic
“This is a very teachable and useful book and should appeal to scholars, libraries, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates.”—Martha Cutter, author of Unruly Tongue: Identity and Voice in American Women’s Writing, 1850–1930