Female Author: Elizabeth Wooster Stuart Phelps

Female author, Elizabeth Wooster Stuart Phelps, was one of the earliest writers to create a series of books for girls.

Elizabeth Wooster Stuart Phelps was one of the earliest writers to create a series of books for girls. Though equally as talented, this Elizabeth Stuart Phelps is not to be confused with her daughter, Mary Gray Phelps, who upon her mothers death, legally took on her name.

Elizabeth Wooster Stuart Phelps was born on August 13, 1815 in Andover, Massachusetts, the daughter of Abigail and Moses Stuart. She was the second daughter in family of five children, who were each born less than a year apart. Her father was a respected theologian and was a Congregationalist minister as well as a professor of Greek and Hebrew literature at Andover Theological Seminary. Her mother was equally as religious, though she was an invalid and lived in pain for most of her life. Elizabeth's religious upbringing undoubtedly shaped her later writing.

Elizabeth grew up in Andover and wrote stories even as a child. She often wrote for her brothers and sisters to help entertain them. After an early education at Abbot Academy, Elizabeth went to Boston to attend Mount Vernon School. While attending the school she stayed with the family of the Reverend Jacob Abbot. Rev. Abbot was not only a minister, but also an author of religious books for children. Rev. Abbot took the time to train Elizabeth and help her hone her writing skills. It was while she was in Boston that Elizabeth first published her stories in a magazine edited by Rev. Abbot. She published them under the pseudonym of H. Trusta, an anagram of "Stuart", the name used on her children's books and adult novels.



Elizabeth stayed in Boston until 1834, when she returned to Andover, suffering from some sort of "cerebral disease". She stopped writing for several years and about eight years later she returned to Boston. In 1842 Elizabeth married Austin Phelps. Her new husband was a pastor of the Pine Street Congregational Church.

In 1844, Elizabeth gave birth to a daughter, Mary Gray Phelps. Six years later, the family moved to Andover for her husband to become a professor of theology oat Andover Seminary. It was then that Elizabeth began writing again. Because her early works were published under a pen name, Elizabeth had some trouble being recognized as a published author. She was, however, finally able to break into the field and became quite successful. She is best known for writing the "Kitty Brown" series, a religious series for girls, and several adult works such as "The Sunny Side, or The Country Minister's Wife" and "A Peep at Number Five", which was considered by most as being semi-autobiographical.

Elizabeth went on to have two more children, Moses in 1849 and Amos in 1852. She died from complications from childbirth only a few months after Amos was born on November 29, 1852. After her mother's death, Mary requested to be renamed Elizabeth Stuart Phelps. Following in her mother's footsteps, Mary became a famous author and thus her mother's name, and in a sense her writing lived on through her daughter.

© High Speed Ventures 2011