Maria Gowen Brooks was born in Medford in 1794.
She went abroad, met many famous people, and achieved an international reputation for her poetry—Judith, Esther, and Other Poems, 1820; Zophiel, 1825; and an Ode to the Departed.
Robert Southey was said to have given her the name Maria del Occidente, which she used as a nom de plume. She wrote a novel in 1843 called Idomen, supposed to have been autobiographical.
Many believed her to have been the original of the Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins.
Dr. John Brooks, one of Medford's most distinguished citizens, delivered an oration before the Society of the Cincinnati in 1787; a Eulogy on George Washington, 1800; Discourse Before the Humane Society, 1795; and a remarkable Farewell to the Militia of the Commonwealth in 1823, all of which are in print.
Of his inaugural address, when governor of Massachusetts, President Monroe said, I am willing to take the principles of that speech as the basis of my administration.