The Infamous Anne Royall: Jacksonian Gossip, Scribbler, and Scold



The widow Anne Royall was America’s first nationally recognized gossip columnist. Both celebrated and highly controversial, she did not begin her career until the age of 57, with the 1826 publication of Sketches of the History, Life and Manners of the United States. Over the next five years, she issued a ten-volume series, Travels in the United States, which consisted of interviews and observations taken in different sections of the country. By then, she had set up shop in Washington, DC, putting out two consecutive newspapers, Paul Pry and The Huntress, so that she remained constantly in print from 1831 to 1854. Courting fame and infamy, Royall was arrested in 1829, charged as a “common scold,” and put on trial. District Court Chief Judge William Cranch presided over her case, debating the finer points of English law over whether the old woman on trial should be punished on the dunking stool. She escaped with a fine, and continued to be a thorn in the side of her enemies.1


State Party Peaceful Teaching Black Book Religious Revival Supreme Court Justice 
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© Kathleen A. Feeley and Jennifer Frost 2014

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