Caroline Howard Gilman (1794-1888)

Caroline Howard Gilman was an author and a poet. She was born in Boston in 1794. Her father was one of those rascally Revolutionists who poured tea into Boston Harbor, and her mother was an ent naturalist. Her father died when Caroline was three, and her mother moved the family around to various communities around Boston, until they came to Cambridge, which is where her young mother died. Caroline was raised mostly by her sister Ann Marie White, who must have done a fabulous job of educating, because by 1810, Caroline was writing quite prolifically (though mostly in secret). She believed that for a woman to write was unbecoming, and she was absolutely horrified when a Boston newspaper published a piece of her writing without her consent. This mortification eventually faded, and she continued to write poetry and prose for the rest of her life.

Caroline Howard married Samuel Gilman in 1819. Samuel was a ministry student at Harvard University. When they had first met, he had courted her by quoting her own poetry, even though he had no idea she was the one who had penned it! Their pretty start was in Cambridge, though they moved to Charleston, SC, where she wrote a great deal, including a weekly journal for young people called “The Rose Bud,” and humorous sketches about the management of a middle-class household and its servants, called “Recollections of a New England Bride.”

Come hear Caroline’s inside scoop of Harvard University and Cambridge!