Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, to academic Calvinist parents, poet, author, and Native American rights activist Helen Hunt Jackson (born Helen Maria Fiske) was orphaned as a child and raised by her aunt. Jackson was sent to private schools and formed a lasting childhood friendship with Emily Dickinson. At the age of 21, Jackson married Lieutenant Edward Bissell Hunt and together they had two sons. Jackson began writing poetry only after the early deaths of her husband and both sons.

Jackson published five collections of poetry, including Verses (1870) and Easter Bells (1884), as well as children’s literature and travel books, often using the pseudonyms “H.H.,” “Rip van Winkle,” or “Saxe Holm.” Frequently in poor health, she moved to Colorado on her physician’s recommendation and married William Sharpless Jackson there in 1875.

Moved by an 1879 speech given by Chief Standing Bear, Jackson wrote A Century of Dishonor (1881), an exposé of the rampant crimes against Native Americans, which led to the founding of the Indian Rights Association. In 1884 she published Ramona, a fictionalized account of the plight of Southern California’s dispossessed Mission Indians, inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Jackson was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 1985.

Poems by Helen Hunt Jackson
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