The 18th century is full of women turning their dead husband's dead businesses profitable. The novel I'm working on explores the lives of entrepreneurial women, tavern keepers, enslaved women earning money, and…publishers. From its pretty early stages, I knew there would be one woman publisher in this book, Anne Green. But in my research I also discovered Virginia publisher Clementina Rind. Who it just so happens, had a direct connection to Anne Green.
Anne Catharine Hoof Green was born in the Netherlands in 1720 and emigrated to America as a child. She would eventually meet Jonas Green and after marrying in 1738, they would move from Philadelphia to Annapolis.
Jonas was the son of New England printers so it made sense that he would set up a small print shop on Charles Street. Jonas died in 1767, leaving Anne with a half a dozen kids, a print shop, and a whole lot of debt. Anne got to work.
She started by fulfilling a contract her husband had negotiated with the Maryland government to publish The Acts, Votes, and Proceedings of the Maryland Assembly. Having completed the work reliably and on time, she was able to renegotiate the contract for the following year in her own name.
After this initial success, it was time for Anne to build her publishing business on her own terms. She continued to publish The Maryland Gazette, covering issues leading up to independence and keeping her finger on the pulse of local news. She covered local debates and published Annapolis' bylaws and charter in 1769.
Expanding into law, Anne published Elie Vallette's Deputy Commissary's Guide, the first original American legal guide and first book on the law of wills. She worked with silversmith Thomas Sparrow to create the only engraved title page from a colonial Maryland press.
Unintended Consequences of The Stamp Act
While Jonas Green was alive, he brought on an apprentice to the print shop, Annapolis native William Rind. They worked together for at least seven years, and while I don't have evidence of it, I'd like to think that Anne and William's wife, Clementina, became friends. The partnership between Green and Rind ended when The Maryland Gazette temporarily shut down in response to the Stamp Act.
William and Clementina moved to Virginia and started their own publication, The Virginia Gazette.
And Clementina Rind had learned some things.
I suppose we're all familiar with this situation…William Rind died leaving his wife with a ton of debt to work her way out of. Clementina got work as the first female printer and newspaper publisher in Virginia.
She evolved The Virginia Gazette into a publication more resembling a literary journal. While she still covered local events, shipping news, and the like, she also included poetry, essays, and articles about science and education. She valued her female audience and unapologetically printed tributes to women, offered glimpses of life in European high society, and reported the news with a decidedly female perspective.
Patriots in Print
Both Anne Green and Clementina Rind became involved in politics leading up to the American Revolution. Both had contracts to print government material and both publications ended up with an increasingly patriotic lean, in case you were wondering if women were participating in the Revolution.
Clementina would publish the first edition of Thomas Jefferson's A Summary View of the Rights of British America after Peyton Randolph did a dramatic reading of it for a crowd of Virginia patriots. George Washington bought an early copy for three shillings and ninepence.
Sisters in Success
Anne would be successful enough to pay off her husband's debts, buy the house and print shop outright and, because she earned it, commission a portrait of herself from Charles Wilson Peale.
Clementina died young in 1774. Her obituary called her "a Lady of Singular Merit, and Universally esteemed," known for her literary talent and sound judgment.
Both left behind profitable businesses.