Lucretia Peabody Hale (1820-1900) was descended from two of New England’s most illustrious families and grew up surrounded by Boston’s nineteenth-century intelligentsia. Her father, Nathan Hale, was publisher of The Boston Daily Advertiser, her uncle Edward Everett was a United States Senator and later president of Harvard; and her brother Edward Everett Hale was a well-known Unitarian clergyman and abolitionist. Hale was educated at progressive schools and, from a young age, helped her father with various editorial tasks at his paper. By the time she was in her twenties, she was able to support herself by writing for several publications, including The Atlantic Monthly. Hale liked to amuse her young friends and relations with tales of the antic Peterkin family, and when Our Folks, a popular children’s magazine, issued a call for fiction that was not just morally improving, she sent some of her stories in. “The Lady who Put Salt in Her Coffee” was published in 1868 and proved an instant success; stories continued to appear for nine years and were collected in two volumes. Hale was also active in charity and politics, overcoming fierce opposition, from her brother Charles among others, to be elected as the first woman member of the Boston School Committee.
Before Amelia Bedelia and the Stupids there were the Peterkins.