(1811–1872), pseudonym of Sara Payson Willis Parton, novelist and journalist, first American woman newspaper columnist, and originator of the saying, “The way to a man's heart is through his stomach.” Born in Portland, Maine, on 9 July 1811, Fern grew up in Boston. She graduated from Catharine Beecher's Hartford Female Seminary in 1831, and in 1837, she married Charles Eldredge, a cashier at the Merchants' Bank in Boston. Her first child, Mary, was born in 1838, and died in 1845. She had two other children, Grace (b. 1841) and Ellen (b. 1844). In 1846, Eldredge died insolvent, and in 1849, under pressure from her family, Fern entered into a marriage of convenience with Samuel Farrington, a widower with two children. The marriage was, as her daughter Ellen later said, “a terrible mistake,” and in 1851, Fern left Farrington and attempted to earn her own living, first by sewing and then by writing.
From The Oxford Companion to Women's Writing in the United States in Oxford Reference.