Royall Tyler (1757-1826) is considered the most important Vermont writer of the Federalist era. In 1801, Tyler and his wife Mary moved to Brattleboro, living on a farm in the West Village and then in a house on the Town Common. A Harvard graduate, he became a lawyer, and State’s Attorney for Windham County He then served on the Vermont Supreme Court, including several terms as Chief Justice. In addition to court opinions, Royall Tyler wrote prolifically, his verse and prose pieces published in many newspapers. His comedic play, The Contrast, was staged in New York City in 1787 as part of inauguration festivities for George Washington, who attended the performance. He also penned one of America’s first novels, The Algerine Captive: or the Life and Adventures of Doctor Updike Underhill: Six Years a Prisoner among the Algerines, published in 1797. The work makes the argument against slavery, years before the abolitionist movement emerged.
Mary Palmer Tyler (1775-1866) had eleven children with Royall. In 1811, she published The Maternal Physician, America’s first child rearing manual. In it, she outlined an expanded role in child rearing for mothers beyond the customary practice of colonial women. Tyler encouraged her upper-class readers to breast feed their babies, and to insist upon the supremacy of their maternal instincts over the authority of male physicians for routine care. Her manual also provided a collection of herbal remedies. Mary’s memoirs were published by her descendants as Grandmother Tyler’s Book in 1925.
Audio Production: Reg Martell and Don McLean
Research/Script: Don McLean, Cristina Gibbons and Jerry Carbone
Narration: Don McLean and Jenny Holan
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