Sarah Josepha Buell was born in Newport, New Hampshire. She was educated at home by her mother and elder brother, and became a local schoolteacher. In 1813, she married David Hale, a lawyer. They had four children and she was pregnant with the fifth when he died suddenly. She turned to writing for income. She published the nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb" as an original poem in 1830. She later became the editor of Godey's Lady's Book from 1837-1877 and made it the most influential women's magazine in 19th-century America. She also campaigned to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.