Caroline Kirkland



Born in New York City, the oldest of eleven children, Caroline Kirkland was educated in Quaker schools for over ten years, exposing her to the social philosophies of the Quakers. She worked as a teacher herself, helping to support her family after her father died, before she met her husband, William Kirkland, who was a tutor at Hamilton College in upstate New York. After moving to Michigan to run the Detroit Female Seminary in 1835, the Kirklands purchased land northwest of Detroit. It was the Kirkland’s experience on the frontier that precipitated the creation of A New Home, Caroline Kirkland’s first book. The book, published in 1839 under the pseudonym Mrs. Mary Clavers, was praised for its realism, though some of her neighbors were not happy with their portrayal. She published two other books about frontier life, Western Clearings and Forest Life. After returning to New York City in 1843, Kirkland began teaching again and worked as an editor for the Christian Inquirer and The Union Magazine of Literature and Art. Her writing, which was often satirical, offered social criticism on topics ranging from women’s rights and education to prison reform and social class. She was praised by Edgar Allen Poe, who said she was “unquestionably…one of our best writers.” (Linda Spekhals)

Essays by Caroline Kirkland

Harvest musings

Are we wiser than our forefathers?—those of the olden time, when it was supposed there was a time for merry-making, among other good things in this world?

Insect life

I have heard a good old lady exclaim against such contrivances altogether, saying that if you kill one fly, ten will be sure to come to his funeral.
Patrick Madden's New Book
Quotidiana by Patrick Madden

Quotidiana site founder Patrick Madden has just published a book of his own personal essays, including pieces formerly published in the Best American Spiritual Writing and Best Creative Nonfiction anthologies. If you enjoy the classical essays on this site, you'll enjoy these contemporary ruminations as well. Soon there'll be a web page here with further information, but for now, you can find out more (and perhaps purchase a copy) at

"Patrick Madden is an essayist of verve, passion, wit, and dependable moral compass. Quotidiana drew me in powerfully, from page to page and from pleasure to pleasure." —Ian Frazier

2011 Symposium on the Essay
Welcome Table Press Symposium on the Essay

Friend of Quotidiana Kim Dana Kupperman's Welcome Table Press is hosting a one-day symposium at Fordham University on Saturday, October 15th, 2011. In Praise of the Essay: Practice & Form will feature talks and discussions by Phillip Lopate, Robin Hemley, Barbara Hurd, and more.


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