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The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Fifth Edition
Paul Lauter, General Editor

Jane Colman Turell

The daughter of Jane Clark and Benjamin Colman, the liberal minister of Boston’s Brattle Street Church and president of Harvard College, Jane was a precocious child, lovingly instructed by her father. Ill health and her father’s large library allowed her to read widely in divinity, history, and literature. To improve her writing skills, she began a regular correspondence and exchange of verses with her father and composed her first hymn before she was ten. In 1726, she married one of her father’s theology students, Ebenezer Turell. She had four children, only one of whom survived her early death at age twenty-seven.

Although Jane Coleman Turell was a prolific poet, correspondent, and diarist, the only works that survive are those her husband included in Some Memoirs of the Life and Death of Mrs. Jane Turell. He admitted, “I might add to these some Pieces of Wit and Humor, which if published would give a brighter Idea of her to some sort of Readers; but as her Heart was set on graver and better Subjects, and her Pen much oftener employ’d about them, so I chuse to omit them, tho’ innocent enough.” Turell’s father noted that “she was sometimes fir’d with a laudable Ambition of raising the honour of her Sex, who are therefore under Obligations to her....” Her best poetry was written before her marriage—that is, before she was eighteen. Despite masculine censorship, Turell represents a new generation of women who had a consciousness of gender and looked to women as poetic models and whose interests went beyond religious and natural subjects dictated by Puritan culture.

In the Heath Anthology
Psalm CXXXVII. Paraphras'd August 5th, 1725 (c.1725)
[Lines on Childbirth] (1741)
On Reading the Warning by Mrs. Singer (c.1741)  [n.b., First published posthumously]
To My Muse (1741)  [n.b., First published posthumously]

Other Works
[The Fifth Chapter of Canticles paraphras'd from the 8th Verse] (c.1740)

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Coming into Communion: Pastoral Dialogues in Colonial New England
A summary of Laura Henigman's book that references poetry of Jane Colman Turell as evidence of popular women's contributions to religious culture in Colonial New England.

The Integrity of Memory: Creating a New Literary History of the United States
An article by Annette Kolodny on the exclusive practice of literary history construction.

Secondary Sources