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Selected Poetry of Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879)


from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

"What makes the lamb love Mary so,"
The little children cry;
"O, Mary loves the lamb you know,
The Teacher did reply ...
        (Mary's Lamb, 17-20)
  1. Mary's Lamb


Notes on Life and Works

Sarah Josepha Buell was born October 24, 1788, in Newport, New Hampshire. Self-educated, at 18 she became a schoolteacher in Newport and worked there until 1813, when she married David Hale, a lawyer. At his death nine years later, she was a 34-year-old pregnant mother of four who nonetheless rose to become one of America's most successful women writers. In 1828 she became editor of the Ladies' Magazine, and later as literary editor of its heir, Godey's Lady's Book, the dominant woman's magazine of her time. There she published the work of many American women authors, particularly Lydia M. Child and Lydia H. Sigourney. Many worthy causes earned her loyal support. She founded and presided over the Seamen's Aid Society, and America owes to her campaign its national holiday of Thanksgiving, the final Thursday of November. In 1830 the American composer Lowell Mason, who introduced music into the curriculum of American schools, asked her to write lyrics for him. He chose eight poems in her Poems for our Children and popularized them in his Juvenile Lyre (1830). Three of these, "Mary's Lamb," "Prayer," and "Birds" were for decades published without credit in McGuffey's readers, the most important American school book of the century. Hale's volumes of verse and her well-known anthologies of others' poems are

She was living in Philadelphia by 1841 and completed there her greatest work, the 36-volume Woman's Record: or, Sketches of Distinguished Women (1853-76). She died April 30, 1879, two years after she retired from Godey's Lady's Book. For biographies of Hale, see

Biographical information

Given name: Sarah Josepha
Family name: Hale
Birth date: 1788
Death date: 1879