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Author: Sigourney, Lydia Howard


SIGOURNEY, Lydia Howard, formerly HUNTLEY (1791-1865: ANBO)

She was born in Norwich CT, the daughter of a gardener and handyman, Ezekial Huntley, and his wife Zerviah Wentworth. Although her schooling was cut short when her mother became ill and she was needed to help her, she was fortunate in having grown up on the estate of a wealthy widow, Jerusha Lathrop, who recognized and fostered her love of reading. After the death of Mrs. Lathrop in 1806, her nephew Daniel Wadsworth of Hartford supported her protégée at a finishing school in Hartford. Between 1811 and 1814, Huntley ran a girls' school in Norwich with her friend Nancy Maria Hyde (q.v.) but then, when Hyde could no longer work, moved to Hartford to manage a school of her own in Wadsworth's house. In 1819 she married Charles Sigourney (1779-1854), a widower with three children. They had two children together: a son who died in 1850 at the age of 19, and a daughter who survived her mother and saw to her posthumous publications. Sigourney was a prolific professional writer, at first over the objections of her husband but later as the chief breadwinner for the family. Though best known as a poet, she also published essays, prose histories and biographies, and manuals of advice (Letters to Young Ladies [1833] being a particularly popular title in both the US and the UK). In Hartford, her home for the rest of her life, she supported important philanthropic causes such as the education of women, charities for the disabled, missionary efforts, temperance, and Native American rights. An autobiography, Letters of Life, appeared after her death. (ANBO 20 Sept. 2020; 21 Sept. 2020; 21 Sept. 2020; Blain)


Other Names:

  • Lydia Huntley
  • Mrs. Sigourney
  • Mrs. L. H. Sigourney
  • Mrs. Lydia H. Sigourney

Books written (12):

Hartford [CT]: printed by Sheldon and Goodwin, 1815
Cambridge [MA]/ Boston: the University Press/ Cummings and Hilliard, 1822
Boston/ Hartford/ New York: S. G. Goodrich, and Bowles and Dearborn/ H. and F. J. Huntington/ G. and C. Carvill, 1827
London: Thomas Ward and Co., 1834
Philadelphia: Key and Biddle, 1834
Hartford [CT]: Robinson and Pratt, 1834
New-York/ Boston: Leavitt, Lord, and Co./ Crocker and Brewster, 1835