In the new American Wing at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, there is a portrait of Mercy Otis Warren, the Revolutionary-era writer. I’ve always been drawn to the painting for two reasons. First, it was painted by John Singleton Copley, the “official” portrait painter of the American Revolution. And second, Warren was not a typical 18th century woman. She wrote poetry and history and was an outspoken advocate of independence. In 1805 – when Warren was 77-years-old, she published her three volume history of the American Revolution.
Warren is not as well known as Abigail Adams, her friend and correspondent, but maybe Gretchen Woelfle’s new picture book biography of Warren will begin to remedy that. Write On, Mercy!: The Secret Life of Mercy Otis Warren tells the story of Warren’s life, beginning with her childhood on Cape Cod. For young history buffs, especially girls between the ages of 8 and 11, Woelfle’s book is an engaging gateway to the American Revolution and a well-told story of an American Patriot.
Woelfle is also the author of a biography for older readers – Jeannette Rankin: Political Pioneer. In 1916, Rankin was the first woman elected to Congress, and in 1968, at the age of 87, she marched in a protest against the Vietnam War. Maybe Rankin was inspired by Mercy Otis Warren!