Lydia Maria Francis was born in Medford, Massachusetts on 11th February, 1802. In her twenties Child began to write popular historical novels such as Hobomok (1824) and The Rebels (1825). In 1826 established a periodical for children called Juvenile Miscellany. Her book, The Frugal Housewife (1829), was especially popular with the American public.
After hearing William Lloyd Garrison speak at a public meeting in 1831 Child began involved in the campaign against slavery. This included her book An Appeal in Favor of that Class of Americans Called Africans (1833). This book converted people such as Charles Sumner to the cause but upset her traditional readers and sales of her other books dropped dramatically. She was eventually forced to cease publication of Juvenile Miscellany and instead she started with her husband, David Lee Child, a weekly newspaper, the Anti-Slavery Standard.
In 1839 Child and two other women, Lucretia Mott and Maria Weston Chapman were elected to the executive committee of the Anti-Slavery Society. This upset some members of the society were extremely upset by this decision. Lewis Tappan, the brother of Arthur Tappan, the president of the society, argued that: "To put a woman on the committee with men is contrary to the usages of civilized society."
Whereas one leaders, such as William Lloyd Garrison, Theodore Weld, Wendell Phillips and Frederick Douglass were as committed to women's rights as they were to the abolition of slavery. Others disagreed with this view and in 1840 a group including Arthur Tappan, James Birney and Gerrit Smith left the Anti-Slavery Society and formed a rival organization, the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.
Slavery in the United States (£1.29)
In 1861 Child controversially helped Harriet Jacobs publish Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. At the time the book was condemned because of the way it dealt with the sexual exploitation of young female slaves. Jacobs was also highly critical of the role of the Church in maintaining slavery.
Child also became concerned about the rights of women and Native Americans. This was reflected in the publication of History of the Condition of Woman in Various Ages and Nations and An Appeal for the Indians.
Lydia Maria Francis died on 7th July, 1880, in Wayland, Massachusetts.