top of page

Who was Amy Cranstoun? 

Amy Cranstoun was the title of a novel by Catherine Maria Sedgwick (1789-1867), a popular and significant author who contributed to the development of early American fiction.  

It tells the story of Amy, an orphan, who lives with in Providence, Rhode Island with her pious aunt and uncle. Resisting her aunt’s pressure to settle down with a steady man Amy becomes secretly involved with the controversial Lovell Reeve. Whilst secretly meeting with Reeve, Amy is abducted by Native Americans. During her captivity she grows close with a Native American, Matunno, who falls in love with her. As Reeve desperately searches for Amy, he gradually becomes accepted by her family.  However, a Native American woman, Telula, a rival  for Mantunno’s affections, is jealous of Amy, and the novel ends tragically.  

The historical setting is King Philip’s War, also called the First Indian War (1675-1678). It was fought between the English colonists of New England and a group of Native American tribes. The leader of the Native Americans was Metacomet, chief of the Wampanoag peoples, nicknamed ‘King Philip’ by the colonists.  It was fought throughout the Northeast states including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island (where the novel is set) and ended in the defeat of the Native American tribes.  

A contemporary review in the New York periodical the Knickerbocker described it thus: “Its events, we believe, are mostly historical: hence the whole has an interest beyond that of a well-told fiction. Such themes as illustrate American history, we are glad to perceive are beginning to occupy in our annuals the place of the superfluous and the frivolous.”  



The Author 

Catherine Maria Sedgwick was a Unitarian.  In the early thirties she wrote a tract on the bigotry of orthodox Calvinism which was published anonymously as a novel called A New-England Tale in 1822 and was well received. Her other novels include Redwood (1824), Hope Leslie (1827), Clarence (1830) and The Linwoods (1835). In the following twenty years she wrote stories and tracts on moral topics that were published in periodicals and gift books including Amy Cranstoun which was published in the annual Magnolia. Her last novel Married or Single? was published in 1857. Sedgwick’s books were internationally popular. 

Sedgwick also participated in the work of the Women’s Prison Association of New York, and was its first Director from 1854 until her death. 


The Engraver:  George Parker  died by 1868).

British born but active in the United States, notably Philadelphia.  Engraved portraits in London from 1820-1834.  


The Artist:  Charles Cromwell Ingham(1796-1863).

The Irish artist Charles Cromwell Ingham trained in Dublin under William Cumming, a painter known for his accomplished portraits of women. In 1816  Ingham left Ireland for New York where he also became a highly successful painter of society women. His highly-finished style required lengthy sittings - thought to be particularly appropriate for depictions of women. 


References & Further Reading

Benezit Dictionary of British Graphic Artists and Illustrators, Volume 1, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.  

There is a review of Amy Cranstoun in The Magnolia, Monson Bancroft, 1841 


Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 

The Catherine Maria Sedgwick Society 

Amy Cranstoun, Charles Ingham - Framed Antique Print

SKU: 1006
  • Image Number: 1006
    Title: Amy Cranstoun
    Artist: Charles Ingham
    Engraver. G. Parker
    Medium: Steel engraving

    Framed size (h x w): 330 x 264mm

  • To find out more, arrange a viewing or to purchase please email or get in touch via the contact form 

bottom of page