Sophia McIlvaine Herrick was a talented writer with multiple interests. She was born Sophia McIlvaine Bledsoe in Gambier, Ohio, in 1837, the eldest child of Albert Taylor and Harriet (Coxe) Bledsoe. Sophia’s father, a southern educator and writer, was teaching at Kenyon College at that time. Sophia was largely self-taught in her early years, with the guidance of her aunt Margaret Coxe, first in Cincinnati and finally in Dayton. From her 11th year until her marriage she lived with her parents at the University of Mississippi and the University of Virginia.
In 1850 Sophia married James Burton Herrick, a young Episcopalian minister and moved with him to his mission parish in New York City. After 18 years of marriage, with 3 children, she found herself unable to agree with her husband’s extreme social views. Reverend Herrick joined the Oneida community in upstate New York, while Sophia, with her 3 children, joined her father in Baltimore where she assisted him in a girls’ school, which he was operating at that time.
Sophia continued her intense interest in learning and writing, especially in the sciences. She served as associate editor of The Southern Review from 1874-1878. Following this she was assistant editor for Scribner’s Monthly and its successor, Century Magazine, until her retirement in 1906. Sophia Herrick died in 1919.
Besides her editorial work and contributions to periodicals, Mrs. Herrick wrote these six books:
The Wonders of Plant Life Under the Microscope (1883)
Chapters on Plant Life (1885)
Earth in Past Ages (1888)
Thoughtful Hours: Book of Poems (1889)
Century of Sonnets (1902)
Public School Physiology: Perversion of Truth and Science in the Name of Temperance (1908)