Royall Tyler & Mary Palmer Tyler (2 of 2: Guilford)

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  • Royall & Mary Tyler in Guilford


This audio segment focuses on Royall and Mary Tyler's early life at their home in Guilford Center where a state historical marker and today's Guilford Historical Society is housed, and captures Mary's evocative descriptions of early life in the town as found in her memoirs published by her family as 'Grandmother Tyler’s Book' in 1925.

Playwright, poet, essayist and accomplished jurist Royall Tyler (1757-1826), born in Boston, settled in Guilford and later Brattleboro to become the most important Vermont writer of the Federalist era. His play 'The Contrast' was performed for George Washington at his inaugural in New York, the first staged production in the young US. Washington's copy of the play is in the University of Vermont's Special Collections; UVM’s performing arts center is named the Royall Tyler Theatre.

Tyler wrote prolifically. His verse and prose pieces, often witty, satirical and topical, were published in many newspapers. He also penned one of America’s first novels in 1797, The Algerine Captive: or the Life and Adventures of Doctor Updike Underhill: Six Years a Prisoner among the Algerines. The work argues against slavery years before the abolitionist movement emerged.

A scandalous start with his young wife, Mary Palmer Tyler (1775 – 1866), was superceded by a long marriage for this early 1800s power couple. Mary anonymously published the first childcare manual in the new republic “The Maternal Physician” through her husband’s publishing contacts. Progressive for the time, she advised her upscale readers to breast feed their babies and trust their maternal instincts over the authority of male physicians for routine care using herbal remedies.

In 1801, the Tylers moved to Brattleboro, first on a farm in the West Village, and finally in a house on the Town Common (please see Audio Segment 1). The Tylers are buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery. A

Tour Stop Location: Royall Tyler Historical Marker

4024 Guilford Center Road, Gilford, Vermont 05301, United States

Research & Production

Audio Producer: Don McLean & Reg Martell

Script: Christian Gibbons; Jerry Carbone

Narration: Jenny Holan

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