Born in Portsmouth, England, Susanna Haswell Rowson distinguished herself in the American colonies as an author, actress, musician, educator, journalist, and public personality. Rowson's mother, Susanna Musgrave Haswell, died in childbirth, and subsequently the not yet five-year-old Rowson accompanied her father, William Haswell, to Massachusetts. As a British Loyalist, Haswell did not fare well in the revolutionary milieu of the colonies; he was imprisoned and ultimately deported. By her eighteenth birthday, Rowson had endured sufficient trauma---death, poverty, war, and prolonged and difficult travels---to support a host of novels. Upon her return to England, Susanna Rowson worked briefly as a governess, but in 1787 she married a hardware merchant, William Rowson. Faced with a failing business, the Rowsons joined a theater company, and in 1793 Susanna Rowson traveled to the United States as an actress. She proceeded to take up residence in the United States where she enjoyed an amazing and versatile career. Theater was relatively new in America, as the Continental Congress had banned dramatic performances until 1789. Thus, audiences were enthusiastic, and before she had been in Philadelphia a year, Rowson wrote her first play---Slaves in Algiers, or A Struggle for Freedom (1794). It became an immediate hit. In 1796 Rowson moved to Boston to join the burgeoning Federal Street Theater Company, but a year later she left the stage to found what would become the prestigious Young Girls' Academy. As headmistress, Rowson designed an ambitious curriculum and simultaneously served as editor for the Boston Weekly Magazine. Extraordinarily energetic, Rowson continued to compose music, essays, and fiction, to lecture, and to care for her three adopted children. In 1791 Rowson published Charlotte. A Tale of Truth, today known as Charlotte Temple. When the novel was released in America, three years after its earlier English publication, the book became the first American "bestseller," ultimately going through two hundred editions. The fast-paced tale of a woman's tragedy during the revolutionary era made Rowson famous and gave rise to what has been termed a "Charlotte cult," whose members visited Charlotte Temple's fictitious grave in Trinity Church in New York City. A prolific author, Rowson wrote nine other novels, as well as dramas, poetry, and collections of essays. Largely ignored as a sentimental "female scribbler" by nineteenth-century (male) critics, Rowson's reputation has soared in today's more open critical climate.