Fanny Fern

(2519 words)
  • Carole Moses

Sarah Payson Willis (penname: Fanny Fern) was born in Portland, Maine on July 9, 1811, the fifth of nine children. Shortly after her birth, the family moved to Boston, where her father opened a printing business. Later in her life, Fern describes her mother in loving terms; her relationship with her father seems more problematical. Her reticence about him and her newspaper columns that constantly praise loving fathers over tyrannical heads of family strongly suggest that he fell into the latter category. As a convert to Calvinism (and a deacon in his church), he could not but disapprove of his daughter’s self-reliance and independence, which showed itself at an early age, in her repugnance for the dour visiting ministers that …

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Moses, Carole. "Fanny Fern". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 August 2010
[, accessed 05 July 2015.]