STARKVILLE, Miss.--A 2008 book by a retired English department faculty member at Mississippi State University is being honored by the American Library Association.
Meg McGavran Murray's "Margaret Fuller, Wandering Pilgrim" is receiving the organization's Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title.
A University of Georgia Press release, "Wandering Pilgrim" is a 440-page biography of the controversial writer of the nation's first feminist manifesto, "Woman in the Nineteenth Century."
The selective ALA list typically contains only about 10 percent of the 7,000 works annually reviewed by the Choice publication.
To be selected, a book must display overall excellence in presentation and scholarship, have importance relative to other literature in the field, be valuable to undergraduate students and have importance in building undergraduate library collections.
"The award has made me feel that all those years of work have been worth it, that my contribution to scholarship in my field has been recognized," Murray said.
Fully immersing herself in Fuller's life, Murray worked on the book off and on for 30 years. The immersion included a reading of books Fuller herself read in her youth.
"I wanted to see not only how the books' plot lines and moral perspectives might have influenced Fuller's actions, but also how images from them reappeared in her writings and in written records of her dreams," the associate professor emeritus explained.
A Cornell University doctoral graduate, Murray joined the MSU English faculty in 1976 and taught primarily the American Romantics. During her campus tenure, she served as the first chairperson of women's studies, as well as president of the Northeast Mississippi Graduate Association of Phi Beta Kappa and the MSU chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, both international honor societies.
She also holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Ohio State University.
Murray currently is working on a biography of New Deal pioneer Clara Mortenson Beyer, who, in 1934, helped set up the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Standards and later became its deputy director.