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The Muse of the Revolution

The Secret Pen of Mercy Otis Warren and the Founding of a Nation

Author: Nancy Rubin Stuart

A riveting biography of one of America’s boldest and most influential-but least recognized-Founding Mothers

In their landmark book on extraordinary women, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony hailed Founding Mother Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814) for advocating not only “the freedom of man alone, but . . . that of her own sex also.” In this meticulously researched biography of the first female historian of the American Revolution and our first woman playwright, Nancy Rubin Stuart depicts Mrs. Warren’s life and patriotic achievements.

The sister of firebrand James “the Patriot” Otis, who first declared that “taxation without representation is tyranny,” the highly educated Mercy Otis Warren was the mother of five sons and the wife of James Warren, Speaker of the Massachusetts House and paymaster general of the Continental Army. In 1775 patriotic Mrs. Warren served as her husband’s private secretary at the headquarters of the Massachusetts Committee of Safety and the Provincial Congress, where she heard news about the Revolution that few men-and virtually no women-enjoyed.

Mercy Otis Warren was a close friend of both John and Abigail Adams; she and Abigail shared their fears, comforted each other in their husbands’ absences, exchanged theories about child-rearing, and even ran a small importing business together. John Adams, who was impressed with Mrs. Warren’s acumen and literary abilities, praised her “real genius” and encouraged her to write satirical plays, poems, and a history of the American Revolution. After reading her three-volume History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution (1805), however, Adams exploded. In one of ten blistering letters, he accused her of having a “determined resolution” to denigrate his role in the Revolution. This eye-opening biography reveals their complex relationship-and why it unraveled.

The Muse of the Revolution captures Mrs. Warren’s bold interactions with other notables of American history, among them Sam Adams, Henry Knox, Benjamin Lincoln, Hannah Winthrop, Elbridge Gerry, and George and Martha Washington.

Mrs. Warren satirized both British and American Loyalists in her popular plays and poems and authored an influential critique of the U.S. Constitution whose principles were later incorporated into the Bill of Rights. Nancy Rubin Stuart reveals how Mrs. Warren’s provocative writing made her an exception among the largely voiceless women of the eighteenth century, and she persuasively argues for Mercy’s legacy to be appreciated by a new generation.
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“When John Adams observed that ‘History is not the province of the ladies,’ he had in mind his former protege, the accomplished and prolific Mercy Otis Warren. Here Nancy Rubin Stuart restores Mrs. Warren to vibrant life, offering up a vivid picture of colonial America, and, incidentally, proving John Adams twice wrong.” —Pulitzer Prize-winner Stacy Schiff, author of A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America

“At last! A full biography of Mercy Otis Warren—poet, playwright, pamphleteer, scholar, agitator for liberty! Nancy Rubin Stuart’s feminist re-telling of America’s Founding Fathers in revolution and nation-building is a wonderful corrective. This deeply researched, vigorously written portrait of the woman who chronicled the Revolution, improved the U.S. constitution, campaigned for the Bill of Rights; and confronted her competitive, even malicious, male-controlled world with frequent success is stunning. Filled with surprises and important insights, both historical and contemporary, everybody concerned about our past—and our future—will want to read and gift this book.” —Blanche Weisen Cook, University Distinguished Professor, CUNY, and author of the two-volume biography Eleanor Roosevelt

“This Founding Mother was ready to take on the Founding Fathers. Unlike the more diplomatic Abigail Adams, Warren took the direct approach. She relished hurling her verbal darts and piercing male pomposity. Adams was her most celebrated target, but others, including John Hancock, came to feel the prick of her barbs. No one has ever captured the spirit of this woman better than Stuart.” —Dr. William M. Fowler, Jr., Distinguished Professor of History at Northeastern University and former director of the Massachusetts Historical Society

“A fascinating reminder that the Founding Fathers did not birth the Revolution by themselves, and that the ideals of independence resonated as strongly with American women as they did with American men. As Americans confront the issue of ever-increasing executive privilege, we would do well to remember that the individual freedoms we prize so highly were secured by patriots like Mercy Otis Warren.” —Christine M. Kreiser, American History Magazine

“Playwright, poet, and historian, Mercy Otis Warren was both awitness to and chronicler of some of the most important events of the American Revolution. Nancy Rubin Stuart restores Warren to her proper place as one of the Founding Mothers of American independence.” —Rosemarie Zagarri, professor of history at George Mason University and author of A Woman’s Dilemma: Mercy Otis Warren and the American Revolution


Review: BUST - November 1, 2008
“Nancy Rubin Stuart’s nuanced biography …From the first page, Stuart sets off on a speedy (and scholarly) gallop through Warren’s life and times… why isn’t she lauded as frequently as our other Founding Mothers? Stuart persuasively argues for her reinstatement.”

Review: Cape Cod Times - October 26, 2008
“A new biography… illuminates startling similarities between our present political landscape and that of our founding fathers and mothers.”
Review: The Look Books - October 11, 2008
"[O]ne of the best books published this year. . ."
Review: Feminist Review blog - September 20, 2008
"Author Nancy Rubin Stuart has meticulously researched the life of American writer, poet, pamphleteer, playwright, historian and pro-liberty advocate, Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814), and in these 300+ pages, Stuart effectively presents an absorbing reminder that the Founding Fathers did not give birth to the American Revolution by themselves…"
Review: Worchester Telegram & Gazette - July 10, 2008
"Not much has been written about the significant women of the 18th century. Now a new biography of Mrs. Warren, "The Muse of the Revolution: The Secret Pen of Mercy Otis Warren and the Founding of a Nation"... helps fill the void.
Review: The Barnstable Patriot - July 4, 2008
“If there is one thing that the reading of our past teaches us, it’s that we should always judge historical figures within their context . . . In Nancy Rubin Stuart’s comprehensive The Muse of the Revolution, Warren emerges as one of the unsung heroes of the Revolution, brandishing a mean pen in place of musket or sword.”

Review: Wilson Quarterly - July 1, 2008
“Nancy Rubin Stuart, the author of several popular biographies of women, presents Warren in a colorfully anecdotal style. Given the difficulty of reconstructing Warren’s life, Stuart has artfully set the story in the context of the Revolution and relied upon her subject’s friendships, especially with the Adamses….As a lively introduction to the great Mercy Otis Warren, this book is appealing.”
Review: American Spirit - July 1, 2008
“As Stuart demonstrates, Warren was a woman of independent hopes and dreams. . .”

Review: Publisher's Weekly - May 5, 2008
“This commendable biography follows the life of New England patriot Mercy Otis Warren (1728–1814), the celebrated—and sometimes reviled—writer of poems, plays, history and satire...Warren emerges as a fully fleshed-out woman with literary insecurities, intractable opinions and a high-strung temper as well as deep affection for her husband and sons. Stuart includes fascinating period details, focusing primarily on Warren's home-front experiences of rampant inflation, scarcity of goods, high taxes and profiteering during the Revolution as well as typical 18th-century illnesses and family anxieties. Most poignantly, Stuart depicts Warren's loneliness and despair after the deaths of three of her five sons. This account is valuable as an eyewitness play-by-play of the American Revolution and will be a great resource to scholars of women's and literary history." Read Full Review
Review by: Suzanne Lay, Library Journal - May 1, 2008
"This wonderfully researched and readable book has done an excellent job of giving another view of what it took to make this country. Essential for academic and public libraries. Enjoy!"

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The Muse of the Revolution

ISBN: 978-080705516-8
Publication Date: 7/1/2008
Pages: 328
Size:6 x 9 Inches (US)
Price:  $28.95
Format: Cloth
Availability: In stock.
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