She was one of the most influential personalities of her day in American literary circles. A precocious child, she was forced by her father through an education that impaired her health but nonetheless gave her a broad knowledge of literature and languages. A stimulating talker, she conducted in Boston conversation classes for society women on social and literary topics. She was an ardent feminist, and her book Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845) treated feminism in its economic, intellectual, political, and sexual aspects. A leader of transcendentalism, she edited its premier journal, the Dial, for its first two years (1840–42). Although she has been identified as Zenobia in Hawthorne's Blithedale Romance, she was never in sympathy with the Brook Farm experiment upon which the book is based. More recognizable is James Russell Lowell's caricature of her as Miranda in the Fable for Critics. Horace Greeley, attracted by her writings, including Summer on the Lakes in 1843 (1844), called her to New York City as the first literary critic of the New York Tribune, from which her Papers on Literature and Art (1846) were republished. In 1847, Fuller went to Rome, where she married the Marchese Ossoli, a follower of Mazzini, and with him took part in the Revolution of 1848–49 and wrote letters home describing the situation for Tribune readers. In 1850, while sailing to the United States, she was drowned with her husband and infant son when the ship was wrecked off Fire Island, N.Y. Her works were republished incompletely by her brother, Arthur Fuller, and her love letters were edited by Julia Ward Howe.
See her selected writings, Woman and the Myth, ed. by Belle G. Chevigny (1977); her autobiography, Memoirs of Margaret Fuller, ed. by R. W. Emerson and others (1852; repr. 1972); her letters (ed. by Robert N. Hudspeth, 4 vol., 1983–87); biographies by Julia Ward Howe (1883, repr. 1969), Mason Wade (1940, repr. 1973), and Paula Blanchard (1987); studies by Perry Miller, ed. (1963) and David Watson (1989).