Husband Samuel Gridley Howe

Queer Places:
241 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02116
13 Chestnut St, Boston, MA 02108
The Yellow House, 3 Dennis St, Gardiner, ME 04345
Oak Glen, 745 Union St, Portsmouth, RI 02871
Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Julia Ward Howe (May 27, 1819 – October 17, 1910) was an American poet and author, known for writing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and the original 1870 pacifist Mother's Day Proclamation. She was also an advocate for abolitionism and a social activist, particularly for women's suffrage.

Though raised an Episcopalian, Julia became a Unitarian by 1841.[7] In Boston, Ward met Samuel Gridley Howe, a physician and reformer who had founded the Perkins School for the Blind.[2][8] Howe had courted her, but he had shown an interest in her sister Louisa.[9] In 1843, they married despite their eighteen-year age difference.[2] She gave birth to their first child while honeymooning in Europe. She bore their last child in December 1859 at the age of forty. They had six children: Julia Romana Howe (1844–1886), Florence Marion Howe (1845–1922), Henry Marion Howe (1848–1922), Laura Elizabeth Howe (1850–1943), Maud Howe (1855–1948), and Samuel Gridley Howe, Jr. (1859–1863). Howe was an aunt of novelist Francis Marion Crawford. Ward’s marriage to Howe was troublesome for her. He did not approve of her writing and did everything he could to disrupt her creative efforts.[10] Howe raised her children in South Boston, while her husband pursued his advocacy work. She hid her unhappiness with their marriage, earning the nickname "the family champagne" from her children.[11] She made frequent visits to Gardiner, Maine, where she stayed at "The Yellow House," a home built originally in 1814 and later home to her daughter Laura.[12] In 1852, the Howes bought a "country home" with 4.7 acres of land in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, which they called "Oak Glen."[13] They continued to maintain homes in Boston and Newport, but spent several months each year at Oak Glen.[13]

Written in the 1840s and published in 2004 for the first time, Julia Ward Howe's novel The Hermaphrodite is unlike anything of its time--or, in truth, of our own. Narrated by Laurence, who is raised and lives as a man, is loved by men and women alike, and can respond to neither, this unconventional story explores the understanding "that fervent hearts must borrow the disguise of art, if they would win the right to express, in any outward form, the internal fire that consumes them." Laurence describes his repudiation by his family, his involvement with an attractive widow, his subsequent wanderings and eventual attachment to a sixteen-year-old boy, his own tutelage by a Roman nobleman and his sisters, and his ultimate reunion with his early love. His is a story unique in nineteenth-century American letters, at once a remarkable reflection of a largely hidden inner life and a richly imagined tale of coming of age at odds with one's culture. Howe wrote "The Hermaphrodite" when her own marriage was challenged by her husband's affection for another man, Charles Sumner--and when prevailing notions regarding a woman's appropriate role in patriarchal structures threatened Howe's intellectual and emotional survival. The novel allowed Howe, and will now allow her readers, to occupy a speculative realm otherwise inaccessible in her historical moment. By the mid–nineteenth century, Anglo-American guidebooks noted the times and places of literary performances by improvisatrice. Isabella Pellegrini, Teresa Bandettini Landucci, and Fortunata Sulgher attracted much attention for their readings; Giannina Milli and Elena dei Conti Guoli held well-publicized public performances. The American poet Julia Ward Howe noted with delight that she had attended an “Accademia,” a public recitation by the improvisatrice Rosa Taddei, while in Rome.

One of the high points for gay men in Boston was the 1882 visit of Oscar Wilde during his tour of the US. Julia Ward Hove, then the presiding doyen of Boston aristocratic society, hosted a brunch in his honor with guests such as Isabella Stewart Gardner. Thomas Wentworth Higginson publicly attacked Howe for hosting Wilde, prompting her to take to the press to defend herself and her guest. Higginson's opposition wasn't because he was straight; he was madly in love with journalist William Henry Hurlbert despite being married. Hurlbert and Wilde hit it off and the two spent private time together. This may have sparked jealousy in Higginson as Hurlbert had a notorious reputation as a womanizer and a flirt with men. Wilde and Hurlbert in New York and later in Washington were mutually attracted to each other as intensely as Wilde and Higginson in Boston were not, and all the intensity that made Higginson so formidable an abolitionist burst out in jealous rage against Wilde. At a stag dinner honoring Wilde hosted by Hurlbert at the Merchants’ Club in New York, “the first homeward-bound carriage left the portals long after midnight.” Higginson was, of course, excluded from these festive evenings, as he was not privy to more intimate outings between Samuel Ward, Julia Ward Howe’s brother, his beloved Hurlbert, and the “unmanly” Wilde. Thus, Higginson’s attack on Wilde’s aesthetic style may have been a more personal and complicated reaction, a jealousy bound up with Higginson’s own homoerotic and suppressed identity.

Howe died of pneumonia October 17, 1910, at her Portsmouth home, Oak Glen at the age of 91.[31] She is buried in the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[32] At her memorial service approximately 4,000 people sang "Battle Hymn of the Republic" as a sign of respect as it was the custom to sing that song at each of Julia's speaking engagements.[33] After her death, her children collaborated on a biography,[34] published in 1916. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography.[35] In 1987, she was honored by the U.S. Postal Service with a 14¢ Great Americans series postage stamp.[36] Several buildings are associated with her name: The Julia Ward Howe School of Excellence in Chicago's Austin community is named in her honor.[37] The Howe neighborhood in Minneapolis, MN was named for her.[38] The Julia Ward Howe Academics Plus Elementary School in Philadelphia was named in her honor in 1913.[39] Her Rhode Island home, Oak Glen, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.[40] Her Boston home is a stop on the Boston Women's Heritage Trail.[41]

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