Philadelphian Sarah Hall received her education primarily from her father, University of Pennsylvania Provost John Ewing, who tutored her in grammar, astronomy, and classical literature. Married in 1782 to John Hall, who worked in various civil service jobs, she spent her nights writing in her study while her ten children slept.
She contributed frequently to Joseph Dennie's prestigious Port Folio literary magazine, publishing under pseudonyms such as "Constantia" or "Florephia," and she was one of only two women whose work ever appeared in Dennie's periodical. Pursuing an interest in religion, she learned Hebrew and published Conversations on the Bible (1818), which went through five editions.
Her son Harrison Hall, whom she had frequently assisted in his editorial position at Port Folio, collected and published her letters and essays after her death in Mrs. Sarah Hall, Author of Conversations on the Bible. Many of these essays address the status of women; for example, "On Female Education" decries the patriarchal practice of only spending the family money to educate sons, and "In Defense of American Women" argues that girls, unlike their brothers, are too overburdened with domestic tasks and expectations to find time to study.
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