Fanny Fern a.k.a. Sara Willis Parton (1811-1872)

Richard Delancy

Fanny Fern

In modern days, we call an unknown persona an “Alter-Ego” —- for writers and Early-American authors, some may take on a “Pen-Name” (same difference) in my opinion.   Sara Willis Parton soon became forgotten by family & friends by her birth name and became popularly known as Fanny Fern.

Disgracing her family with vulgar, humorous and satirical works —- due to the fact she was advised to make shirts and complete more domesticated duties; Fern discovered her passion for writing creating pieces particularly offensive to men with good reason.  Ultimately this became her biggest challenge – due to the lack of support from sexist male writers who widely spearheaded the news publications during the middle 19th Century. In due time, Fern would prove a woman’s nature in the field of writing, was of paramount importance for all at this time.

Fern was originally deemed a “Sentimentalist” for inane works BUT – after honing her writing skills she balanced more conscious topics that related directly to society and how wrongly men ‘naturally’ perceived women.  Facing harsh criticism from men as being a lesser equal – as a writer; Fern eventually stood her ground tackling the social & economic conditions like none other.  

Opening up the ‘atmosphere’ for female writers — that no topic was “gender-specific” or (traditionally) off limits; Fanny Fern became notorious after publishing Ruth Hall (novel) and other stories such as The Working-Girls of New York & Soliquay of a Housemaid.

Joyce Warren/ Ruth Hall Book Cover

Boosting the confidence of women and once and for all laying the followers of senseless bigotry — like her father and NY Times critics alike to rest — Fanny Fern – Columnist/ Feminist represents the best of feminine literature and/or ‘Ladies Books’ as critics once referred to them.