October 17, 2010

Marriage of Grace Greenwood

Sarah Jane Clarke, a New Yorker by birth, married Philadelphian Leander K. Lippincott on October 17, 1853. They settled in New Brighton, Pennsylvania, in Beaver County, just northwest of Pittsburgh. Sarah Jane Lippincott was better known by her pen name, Grace Greenwood. Though she was incredibly prolific — she first drew national attention in 1844 with a poem in the New York Tribune — she never wrote about her married life.

The couple founded The Little Pilgrim, a monthly magazine for children, with "Grace Greenwood" as its editor, though it ended in 1868. He contributed his own stories and at least one book is credited to both Mr. and Mrs. Lippincott (the Greenwood pseudonym was never meant to hide her identity, and she occasionally published poems side-by-side, one with her real name, and one with her pen name).

Mrs. Lippincott was very interested in politics and lost her job at Godey's Lady's Book after publishing an anti-slavery essay in The National Era. She often spoke out for international copyright law, noting it would be "an immeasurable benefit to the native genius." In response to the idea that authors should write only for the pleasure of writing, she wrote that if America wants writers to labor and sweat over high quality writing, they must be paid a "sweating wage." What little wages she got, however, "Grace Greenwood" was happy to keep for herself.

However, when she married in 1853 at 30 years old, she soon learned that a married authoress plays a different role. Beginning that year, her works were now copyrighted under the name of her husband. As Melissa J. Homestead notes, "although she was still an author, she was no longer a literary proprietor... Her 'sweating wages' legally belongded to her husband." In 1876, however, Leander Lippincott was indicted for land fraud and fled the country. Their marriage was apparently never happy and rumors spread he was not faithful.

*Some information for this post comes from Melissa J. Homestead's American Women Authors and Literary Property, 1822-1869.


  1. Hello Rob,

    Thanks for the interesting post on "Grace Greenwood," who deserves to be better known on various fronts. A question: Do you know if her straying husband, Leander Lippincott, was connected to the Lippincott publishing family, who also had ties to Philadelphia? Just curious. Thx.

  2. That's a good question - and you're not the first to ask. My assumption is that he is connected to the publishers, but I haven't established exactly how. If anyone out there knows better than me, please fill us in!