Phoebe Cary

1824–1871

The sisters ALICE (1820—1871) and PHOEBE CARY (1824—1871) grew up on a farm near Cincinnati, Ohio, in an area later immortalized by Alice’s Clovernook stories. There they immersed themselves in the classics of literature under the tutelage of an older sister whose death in 1833 affected them deeply. Although both published poems while still teenagers, it wasn’t until 1850, after their work had been noticed by such luminaries as Edgar Allan Poe and John Greenleaf Whittier, that a book—Poems of Alice and Phoebe Cary— appeared. (Alice, who produced the majority of its contents, was always the more prolific and versatile of the two, but Phoebe is today considered the finer poet.) After their debut the sisters moved to New York City, where they became central figures in the East Coast literary milieu, contributing regularly to national periodicals and hosting a famous salon on Sunday evenings. They were also active in the early days of the women’s rights movement, with Phoebe serving as an assistant editor for Susan B. Anthony’s newspaper The Revolution. Overwork brought Alice’s life to a premature end, while Phoebe’s grief at her sister’s passing contributed to her own death five months later.

Discover this poet’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Categorization

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

LIFE SPAN 1824–1871

Biography

The sisters ALICE (1820—1871) and PHOEBE CARY (1824—1871) grew up on a farm near Cincinnati, Ohio, in an area later immortalized by Alice’s Clovernook stories. There they immersed themselves in the classics of literature under the tutelage of an older sister whose death in 1833 affected them deeply. Although both published poems while still teenagers, it wasn’t until 1850, after their work had been noticed by such luminaries . . .

Report a problem with this biography

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.