1751Judith Sargent Murray (1751-1820)People and Communities, Notable People, Women's History

John Singleton Copley, Judith Sargent Murray, c. 1770-1772, Oil on canvas, Judith Sargent Murray Society.
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Judith Sargent was born into a wealthy merchant family on May 1, 1751. She was largely self-taught, drawing on her family’s extensive library. She began to write poetry at an early age and eventually became a well-known essayist, poet, and playwright. She was also an early proponent of women’s equality and advocated for women’s access to education, and the right to control one’s finances. Murray is best known for her 1790 essay “On the Equality of the Sexes.”

In 1769, at 18 years old, Sargent married John Stevens. The couple lived in a house on Middle St., built in 1782 (currently the Sargent House Museum). After suffering severe financial losses, Stevens turned over the ownership of the house to his father-in-law and fled the country. He later died in debtor’s prison, leaving Judith Sargent in poverty. In 1788 she married the Universalist Reverend John Murray. After her second marriage, Judith continued her writing, sometimes using the pseudonym “The Gleaner.” She also wrote poetry, and a play titled “The Medium,” which might have been the first staged production by an American playwright.

“Judith Sargent.” Sargent House Museum, https://www.sargenthouse.org/judithsargent Michals, Debra. "Judith Sargent Murray." National Women's History Museum. 2015. www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/judith-sargent-murray
Abdalian, Leon H., 1884-1967. Sargent-Murray Gilman House, Middle Street, Gloucester, Mass.. 1929-10-24. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, https://ark.digitalcommonwealth.org/ark:/50959/fj236c684.
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