Stephens, Ann (1810 - 1886)

Genre: General Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Romance Novel, Short Stories

Ann Stephens, one of the most widely read 19th-century American writers, was born in Humphreysville, Connecticut on March 30, 1810. In 1831 she married Edward Stephens and moved to Portland, Maine. Three years later they began publishing Portland Magazine. Edward was the publisher and Ann, the editor/writer. More information about Ann's responsibilities can be found in Gwen Thompson's article 'Ann S. Stephens and the First Portland Magazine,' which was printed in the September 1994 issue of the current Portland Magazine. In 1836 Ann published her first book, The Portland Sketch Book, a collection of local writers' works.

In 1837 the Stephens moved to New York City where Ann began her long career as a magazine writer and editor. She was associated with Ladies' Companion, Graham's Magazine, and Peterson's Magazine.

In 1856, Stephens started her own magazine, Mrs. Stephens' Illustrated New Monthly; two years later it merged with Peterson's. Stephens wrote mostly historical and romantic melodramas that first appeared in serial form in the above magazines and other popular women's publications. Many of the stories were then published in book form.

Stephens met Edgar Allan Poe, editor of Graham's Magazine, when she was on that magazine's staff in 1841 and 1842. Poe later mentioned her and her work in The Literati of New York City, a series published in Godey's Lady's Book in 1846.

Stephens was the author of the first dime novel Beadle & Adams Company published when the company reissued her 1839 serial, Malaeska: The Indian Wife of the White Hunter (1860) in book form. It is reported to have sold over 300,000 copies. Stephens, like Elizabeth Oakes Smith, became one of the publisher's stable of writers. In addition to her novels and short stories, Stephens also wrote verse and literary reviews.

Stephens used the pseudonym 'Jonathan Slick' when she wrote a series of sketches focusing on an imaginary Yankee's experience in New York City. Edward Stephens published them under the title High Life in New York. By Jonathan Slick, Esq. of Weathersfield, Connecticut. A Series of Letters to Mr. Zephariah Slick, Justice of the Peace, and Deacon of the Church over to Weathersfield, in the State of Connecticut. (1843).

Stephens died on August 20, 1886.

Selected Bibliography

  • The Tradesman's Boast (1846)
  • The Ladies' Complete Guide to Crochet, Fancy Knitting and Needlework (1854)
  • Fashion and Famine (1854/1886)
  • The Reigning Belle. A Society Novel. (1855)
  • The Old Homestead (1855)
  • Mary Derwent (1858)
  • The Heiress. An Autobiography (1859)
  • Myra, The Child of Adoption (1860)
  • The Rejected Wife (1863/1876)
  • Ahmo's Plot; or, The Governor's Indian Child (1863?).
  • The Wife's Secret (1864/1876)
  • The Indian Queen (1864)
  • The Gold Brick (1866)
  • The Soldier's Orphans [1866]
  • The Curse of Gold (1869)
  • Ruby Gray's Strategy (1869)
  • Wives and Widows: or The Broken Life (1869)
  • Married in Haste (1870)
  • A Noble Woman (1871)
  • Palaces and Prisons (1871)
  • The Old Countess (1873)
  • Bellehood and Bondage (1873)
  • Lord Hope's Choice (1873)
  • Phemie Frost's Experiences (1874)
  • Bertha's Engagement (1875)
  • Norston's Rest (1877)
  • David Hunt (1892)
  • The Lady Mary (1892)
  • Wives and Widows; or, The Broken Life (1897)

Selected Resources

  • Women Vernacular Humorists in Nineteenth-Century America: Ann Stephens, Francis [i.e. Frances] Whitcher, and Marietta Holley (1988)
  • Hired Pens: Professional Writers in America's Golden Age of Print (1997).