Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (September 24, 1825 – February 22, 1911) was an American abolitionist, suffragist, poet, temperance activist, teacher, public speaker, and writer. Beginning in 1845, she was one of the first African-American women to be published in the United States.
|Born free in Baltimore, Maryland, Harper had a long and prolific career, publishing her first book of poetry at the age of 20. At 67, she published her widely praised novel Iola Leroy (1892), placing her among the first Black women to publish a novel.
As a young woman in 1850, she taught domestic science at Union Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, a school affiliated with the AME Church. In 1851, while living with the family of William Still, a clerk at the Pennsylvania Abolition Society who helped refugee slaves make their way along the Underground Railroad, Harper started to write anti-slavery literature.After joining the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1853, Harper began her career as a public speaker and political activist
Further from Wikipedia:
Harper's writing career started in 1839 when she published pieces in antislavery journals. Her politics and writing informed each other. Her writing career started long before she was married—20 years to be exact—so several of her works were published under her maiden name of Watkins.
Harper published her first volume of verse, Forest Leaves, or Autumn Leaves, in 1845 when she was 20 years old. This book marked her as an important abolitionist voice. A single copy of this volume, long lost, was rediscovered in the early 21st century by scholar Johanna Ortner in Baltimore, at the Maryland Historical Society in the 2010s. Her second book, Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects (1854), was extremely popular. Over the next few years, it was reprinted several times.
In 1858, Harper refused to give up her seat or ride in the "colored" section of a segregated trolley car in Philadelphia (97 years before Rosa Parks). In the same year, she published her poem "Bury Me in a Free Land" in The Anti-Slavery Bugle and it became one of her best known works.