Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (b. September 24, 1825) was a poet, orator, abolitionist, and suffragist who became a household name in the nineteenth century. Frances was born to free African American parents in Baltimore, Maryland, but was orphaned at a young age. She was subsequently raised by her aunt and uncle, Henrietta and William Watkins. Her uncle was an abolitionist and medical practitioner who established the Watkins Academy for Negro Youth in 1820, where Frances studied until the age of thirteen. After entering the workforce as a nursemaid and seamstress, she wrote her first volume of poetry, Forest Leaves, by age twenty-one.
Back to Top