If they'd been awarding Pulitzers during her lifetime, Margaret Fuller surely would have been deserving -- first in nonfiction for the ground-breaking books she wrote (including Woman in the Nineteenth Century) and in journalism for her insightful and daring reporting that she did on the Roman Revolution of 1848 for the New York Tribune. Well, let's be honest: given where woman was in the 19th century, she probably wouldn't have received the highest writing honors but thanks to the talented Megan Marshall, her name is in big lights these days.
For any of us who know her, happiness abounds for Megan Marshall's having won this year's Pulitzer in biography for Margaret Fuller: A New American Life. It took chuztpah to write a biography of Fuller after so many others -- I don't know the full count of the body of bios but it's got to be at least 50, some superb, some not so superb. Megan's falls into the former category, with her having chosen and faithfully executed her desire to have history read like a novel. Many a biographer has tried this but not all succeed where Megan has.
I am so happy for her. Megan and I met as a result of her having written her Pulitzer-finalist biography of The Peabody Sisters. I told this story here seven years ago. Shortly after she began work on the Fuller book, we arranged to meet again (also at Whole Foods -- you have to click the link to understand). Megan was asking questions of people like me, people for whom Fuller has served as an inspiration. It was an interesting way for her to be gathering insight into Fuller because there are so many people like us.
Forty years after I first discovered her in the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women, Margaret Fuller is with me still as I progress with the second volume of a novel-trilogy that I'm writing about her and her contemporary counterparts, "Woman in the 21st-Century." I am grateful to Megan for this too as she's provided many new windows into this eternal soul.