During her long career as a public figure in Jacksonian America, Anne Royall was called everything from an "enemy of religion" to a "Jackson man" to a "common scold." In her search for the source of such strong reactions, Elizabeth Clapp has uncovered the story of a widely read woman of letters who asserted her right to a political voice without regard to her gender.

Widowed and in need of a livelihood following a disastrous lawsuit over her husband’s will, Royall decided to earn her living through writing--first as a travel writer, journeying through America to research and sell her books, and later as a journalist and editor. Her language and forcefully expressed opinions provoked people at least as much as did her inflammatory behavior and aggressive marketing tactics. An ardent defender of American liberties, she attacked the agents of evangelical revivals, the Bank of the United States, and corruption in government. Her positions were frequently extreme, directly challenging the would-be shapers of the early republic’s religious and political culture. She made many enemies, but because she also attracted many supporters, she was not easily silenced. The definitive account of a passionate voice when America was inventing itself, A Notorious Woman re-creates a fascinating stage on which women’s roles, evangelical hegemony, and political involvement were all contested.

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