History's Women: Miscellaneous Articles: Alice and Phoebe Cary, The Literary sistersAlice and Phoebe Cary
The Literary sisters
1820 – 1871 A.D. | 1824 – 1871 A.D.

Their early years were spent at Miami Valley, near Cincinnati, Ohio. They both possessed marked literary tastes and ability, and began writing for the press while in their teens.

Their mother died when Alice was not but eleven, and their stepmother had not sympathy with their literary aspirations. Candles were refused them after the day’s work was done and they used a saucer of lard with a rag for a wick, and by this light they studied and wrote.

Alice received no financial compensation for her work for the first ten years. She wrote for the love of it — we may say, from an overflowing heart.

Alice wrote both prose and poetry. Phoebe gave her attention almost entirely to poetry, having little taste for prose productions.

The sisters lived in a house by themselves for some years, the father and stepmother occupying another residence.

In 1852, having received some means of their own, the sisters removed to New York city, where their home became the center of a choice group of people interested in literature and art. Here they held receptions each week, which became deservedly popular.

They died in the same year, but a few months apart. Alice was an invalid in her last years and the care of the household devolved upon Phoebe. She was thus deprived of much time which otherwise have been given to literary work and would have added to her fame.

Alice wrote Clovernook, or Recollections of our Neighborhood in the West, Hagar, a Story of To-day, Married, not Mated, Pictures of Country life, Ballads, Lyrics, and Hymns. Her characters are realistic and her descriptions of domestic life are charming.

Phoebe is know for her poem which begins One sweetly solemn thought comes to me o’er and o’er, Poems of Faith, Hope, and Love, and other productions which were published in a volume with those of her sister, before their removal to New York.


Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.

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