Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sarah Kemble Knight wrote early journal

Sarah Kemble Knight
It is the birthday of New England businesswoman Sarah Kemble Knight (1666), whose literary claim to fame may be her journal, in which she paints a vivid picture of life in the colonies in the early 18th century. It recounts an arduous journey she took on horseback in 1704 from her home in Boston to New Haven, Connecticut, and then to New York to settle the estate of a cousin who had died. Sarah's husband was a ship's master and widower. Scholars think he was considerably older than Sarah and spent much time away from home, probably in England, where he apparently represented an American company. Sarah became an astute businesswoman, innkeeper and real estate dealer at a time when those were unusual occupations for women. Her journal offers wonderfully detailed insight into colonial customs and conditions as well as class distinctions and social manners and morals. it is full of sly wit and broad humor, astute observations, and not a little prejudice, especially toward Native Americans. It offers contrasting portraits of the backwoods nature of New England and the sophistication of New York. Sarah's journey ended in March 1705, when she returned safely home to Boston. The Journal of Madam Knight was first published in 1825.

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