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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

POET PROFILE

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FRANCES ELLEN WATKINS HARPER  (c1825-1911)

was born to free parents in the slave state of Maryland. She was orphaned at an early age, when her mother died in 1828. She was raised by her maternal aunt and uncle, Rev William Watkins, who was a civil rights activist. He was a major influence on her life.

Frances was a poet, novelist, essayist, journalist, orator and activist, who published her first volume of poetry, Forest Leaves, at the age of 20, but unfortunately the manuscript was lost. Her 2nd book, Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects, published in 1854 was extremely popular and was reprinted numerous times.

She earned financial independence and nationwide acclaim with her writings, was a strong supporter of abolitionism, and was active in Black organizations. She also helped slaves escape through the Underground Railroad, and wrote frequently for anti-slavery newspapers, earning her reputation as the Mother of African-American journalists.

Watkins died in 1911 and was  buried in Eden Cemetery in Philadelphia.

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To read the details of her life, click on the following links poets.orgpoetryfoundation.org, and poemhunters.com


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