Mary Weston Fordham

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Mary Weston Fordham (1862?–1905) was an African-American poet and teacher.


Mary Weston Fordham was born in Charleston, South Carolina likely around the year 1862.[1] Her parents were Louise Bonneau and Rev. Samuel Weston.[2] Her parents and extended family were skilled laborers and land owners. She became a poet and an educator. She ran a school for African-American children during the Civil War. After the war, she worked as a teacher for the American Missionary Association.[3] Her poetry indicates that she was the mother of six children, all of whom died.[2]

Her collection Magnolia Leaves collected 66 poems[1] that offers a presentation of African-American families following the American Civil War. The introduction to the book is written by Booker T. Washington,[1] in which he reflects on his concerns for African-American families. In tone and subject, Fordham's poetry matches that of white female poets of the period: sentimentality, moral virtues, and explorations of death, motherhood, patriotism, and Christianity.[2]

Published works[edit]

  • Fordham, Mary Weston (1897). Magnolia Leaves, Charleston: Walker, Evans & Cogswell Co.


  1. ^ a b c "Biographies". Retrieved 2012-12-10. 
  2. ^ a b c "Mary Weston Fordham" in African-American Poetry of the Nineteenth Century: An Anthology edited by Joan R. Sherman. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992: 441. ISBN 0-252-06246-9
  3. ^ "Mary Weston Fordham". The Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2012-12-10. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Gardner, Eric; Henry Louis Gates Jr.; and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham (eds). "Mary Weston Fordham", African American National Biography, Oxford African American Studies Center
  • Goven, Sandra Y.; and Jessie Carney Smith, editor (1996). "Mary Weston Fordham", Notable Black American Women