Sukey Vickery’s Emily Hamilton is an epistolary novel dealing with the courtship and marriages of three women. Originally published in 1803, it is one of the earliest examples of realist fiction in America and a departure from other novels at the turn of the nineteenth century. From the outset its author intended it as a realist project, never delving into the overly sentimental plotting or characterization present in much of the writing of Vickery’s contemporaries. Emily Hamilton explores from a decidedly feminine perspective the idea of a woman’s right to choose her own spouse and the importance of female friendship. Vickery’s characterization of women further diverges from the typical eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century didactic of the righteous/sinful woman and depicts, instead, believable female characters exhibiting true-to-life behavior.
A presentation of this novel accompanied by Vickery’s poetry, letters, a diary fragment, and a few nineteenth-century responses to her work, Emily Hamilton and Other Writings is the first complete collection of Vickery’s writings.