Julia Caroline Ripley Dorr
Vermont's unofficial poet laureate. Honored with the task of composing the "Centennial Poem" for the Vermont Centennial in 1877. Accomplished author and poet.
Date of Birth02/13/1825
Date of Death01/18/1913
Julia Caroline Ripley Dorr was a famous Vermont author and poet, and one of the first female literary figures in Vermont. She published many novels, poems, and books on travel and advice.
Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Dorr lived with her widower father in New York City for a brief time before moving to Middlebury, Vermont, where her father was remarried. She had some schooling at the Middlebury Female Seminary and the Troy Conference Academy.
Julia Dorr was happily married to Seneca M. Dorr, a lawyer and legislator, in 1847. Together they had five children. They settled in Rutland, and lived in a home called "The Maples" on the bank of the Otter Creek.
Dorr was first published after becoming a wife and mother. Her family provided support for her writing ambitions. Her husband helped to publish her first novel, "Farmingdale", in 1854, under the pseudonym, Caroline Thomas. She had two more novels, "Lanmere" (1856) and "Sybil Huntington" (1869), published under this name. From 1873 on, she produced publications under her own name including, "Expiation" (1873), "Bride and Bridegroom" (1873), "In King's Houses" (1898), ten volumes of verse, and three travel books, among others. Her novels often "portrayed young women lifting themselves from poverty through education and persistence".
Her work appeared in such publications as, "Harper's", "Scribner's", and "The Atlantic".
Dorr was honored as the state's "unofficial poet laureate" and asked to write the Centennial Poem in 1877. The 337-line "Centennial Poem" likened Vermont to, "Woman form, majestic, strong, and fair".
Julia Dorr was an active member of the Rutland community. She was a founder of the Rutland Free Library. She was President of the Rutland Fortnightly Club for thirty years. Her children and nephew were regarded as artistically talented as well. Two of her sons, Henry Ripley and Russell R., paid her tribute at Rutland's Centennial celebration. Julia Dorr's father built (and rebuilt after a fire) the Rutland Opera House. Julia Dorr composed an ode for the reopening of the Opera House.
Julia Dorr gained the respect and friendship of many of the era's famous male literary figures including: Longfellow, Lowell, Holmes, Whittier, and Emerson.
In 1910, Dorr received an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Middlebury College. The College stated, "...you have written the peace and beauty of our northern valleys...you have sung your quiet way into the hearts of Vermont men and women."
Organizations or Movements
- Fortnightly Club, Rutland
- Middlebury Female Seminary
- Troy Conference Academy