Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: The Dinner Party: Heritage Floor: Susanna Rowson

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Judy Chicago (American, b. 1939). The Dinner Party (Heritage Floor; detail), 1974–79. Porcelain with rainbow and gold luster, 48 x 48 x 48 ft. (14.6 x 14.6 x 14.6 m). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10. © Judy Chicago. Photograph by Jook Leung Photography

Susanna Rowson
b. circa 1762, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England; d. 1824, Boston

Susanna Rowson (née Haswell), a writer, actress, and educator, published her first novel, Victoria, in 1786. Along with her husband, William Rowson, she emigrated to the United States in 1793, where the couple performed with both the Philadelphia New Theatre and Boston's Federal Street Theatre. In 1797, Susanna made her final stage appearance and opened the Young Ladies' Academy in Boston, a prestigious school for girls, which followed a progressive curriculum and relied on textbooks written by Rowson herself. A writer of novels, plays, and poetry, her best-known work, Charlotte: A Tale of Truth (1791), enjoyed extraordinary popularity in its day; some half a million readers read the so-called seduction novel that told a cautionary tale of a naive young woman who is seduced and abandoned after being lured to America by a young man.

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