Today at 5:00pm on WCHE 1520am, Sam interviews April Bernard author of “Miss Fuller”.
What does one sensitive but ordinary woman makes of a publicly disgraced woman like Fuller, and how do women make use of what they learn from other women? Miss Fuller is a historical novel that also poses timeless questions about how we see and treat the exceptional and dangerous agents of change among us. And it shows the price that any one person might pay, who strives to change the world for the better.
It is 1850. Margaret Fuller—feminist, journalist, orator, and “the most famous woman in America”—is returning from Europe where she covered the Italian revolution for The New York Tribune. She is bringing home with her an Italian husband, the Count Ossoli, and their two-year-old son. But this is not the gala return of a beloved American heroine. This is a furtive, impoverished return under a cloud of suspicion and controversy. When the ship founders in a hurricane off Long Island and Fuller and her small family drown, her friends back home, Emerson and others of the Transcendentalist Concord circle, send Henry David Thoreau to the wreck in hopes of recovering her last book manuscript. He comes back declaring himself empty-handed—but actually he has found a private and revealing document, a confession in letters, of a strong and beloved woman’s life like no other in the 19th century. Her account of the life of the mind and body, of experiences in Rome under siege, of dangerous childbirth and great physical and moral courage—are eventually revealed to her one reader, Thoreau’s youngest sister, Anne.
She was the most famous woman in America. And nobody knew who she was.
“A warmly sympathetic leap into the psychology of a compelling iconoclast… . These are the chambers of conjecture into which biographers are not permitted; Ms. Bernard enters them with sensitivity and brio.” – The Wall Street Journal
“Bernard weaves a fascinating novel.” – The Boston Globe
“Poet and novelist [April] Bernard takes an unusual approach to historical fiction in this supple and concentrated tale… . Bernard’s elegant, witty, vivid, and tragic portrait reclaims a vilified yet revered and influential thinker and visionary.” – Booklist
April Bernard is a novelist, poet, and essayist. Miss Fuller, an historical novel, is being published this spring by Steerforth. Her first novel, Pirate Jenny, was published in 1990; her most recent collection of poems is Romanticism (W.W. Norton, June 2009). Previous poetry collections are Blackbird Bye Bye, Psalms, and Swan Electric. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, The Nation, and Slate. She has taught widely and was for many years a magazine and book editor in New York City. Her honors include a Guggenheim award, the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, a Whitney Humanities Fellowship at Yale University, a Sidney Harman Fellowship, and the Stover Prize. As Director of Creative Writing, she is a member of the English Department faculty at Skidmore College, and is also on the faculty of the Bennington MFA Writing Seminars.