Tabitha Gilman Tenney was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, to an historic and influential family. Little is known of her early life. In 1788, she married Samuel Tenney, a surgeon who had served in the army during the American Revolution. He was elected to Congress as a Senator from New Hampshire in 1788, and she accompanied him to Washington, DC. They lived there for 16 years, while he served four terms, before returning to Exeter. Her novel Female Quixotism (1801) was one of the most popular books in the USA prior to the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852. It went through at least five editions.