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born 1737

Once dubbed "the most learned woman in America," Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson was a tastemaker at the center of colonial society. This largely forgotten founding mother not only wrote, published + inspired prodigious amounts of poetry, she also hosted one of the most fashionable salons in New England from her family's Pennsylvania home.

Unlucky in love, Elizabeth was jilted by Ben Franklin's son only to wind up marrying a British loyalist who involved her in anti-revolutionary plots that left her estate and reputation in jeopardy. Through it all, she kept up her independent, artistic spirit ~ serving as muse + mentor to many a woman in the newly minted United States.

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson (8)

"The Sea seems to be a perfect Circle, surrounded by Clouds, that look as if they bent down at the Edges to join it, so that our own Eyes form the Horizon, & like Self-Love, we are always placing ourselves in the Middle, where all Things move round us."

Elizabeth Graeme's travel journal | september 1765

"The Painters Pencil paints alone, One Object to our view, But by the Happier Pen is Shown What kindred Souls pursue."

Verses to a Married Gentleman who made Laura Some very good penns | 1777

"Hope and fear are ever in one train, Linked to each other in life's motley chain."

From Mrs. Fn to Mr. Fn the night before he crossed the Altantic she remaining in Pennsylvania | january 1779

"Let our wheels and our reels go merrily round, While health, peace, and virtue amongst us are found."

The American Spinning Wheel | 1782

"It is always true wisdom to yield to your fate."

The American Spinning Wheel | 1782

"Grateful read the nice mark’d lines, Where taste and judgment’s shewn; Where virtue all harmonious shines."

Lines by a Friend, on reading Mrs. M. Moore's printed and unprinted extracts for the use of Schools | may 1788

"Melissa cull’d each sweet, From the informing page, and brought an intellectual treat, For youth, and hoary age."

Lines by a Friend, on reading Mrs. M. Moore's printed and unprinted extracts for the use of Schools | may 1788

"Let Girlish Nymphs and Boyish Swains, Their amorous Ditties Chant! Make vocal Echoing Hills and Plains; And Loves frail Passion Paint. But Friendships steady flame as far; Out shines that transient Blaze; As Mid Day suns a glimmering Star Which faintest Beams displays."

On the Preference of Friendship to Love | 1789
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curated with care by Alicia Williamson {december 2014}