Stephens, M.D., Charles (1844 - 1931)

Genre: General Fiction, Non-Fiction, Short Stories, Young Adult

Stephens was born on October 21, 1844 on a farm on Upton Ridge, Norway, Maine, graduated from Bowdoin College in 1869 and taught at the Norway Liberal Institute. In 1871 he married Christine Newell Stephens, who worked as a teacher, club-woman and writer of short stories for various juvenile publications. Stephens' second wife, Minne Plummer, was a well-known opera singer (Madame Scalar). Stephens died on September 22, 1931 in Norway, Maine.

Stephens' writing career began when he had stories about his early years published in a magazine called Our Young Folks; eventually, Stephens published over 25 articles in this magazine. When he began writing for a living, he changed his surname from Stevens to Stephens, so as not to embarrass his family should he fail. After several years of publishing articles and stories in various magazines, Stephens found a home for himself at The Youth's Companion in 1871, where he eventually became assistant editor and worked for 60 years as traveling correspondent. To facilitate writing accurate medical columns in Youth's Companion, Stephens pursued and received his Doctor of Medicine from Boston University in 1887, and later built a biological laboratory in his Norway home, a mansion near Lake Penneseewassee, across from where the entrance to Norway Lake Park is today.

Stephens published over 2,500 articles and 30 books, many set in the rural Maine of the mid-nineteenth century. Often his articles were published anonymously or using pseudonyms, including Zu Behfel, Stinson Jarvis, Marcus Vanderpool, Henrietta Crosby, Charlotte H. Smith, and Charles Adams (who wrote tales about 'Waynor' Maine).

The Friends of C.A. Stephens was established in 1994 (the 150th anniversary of his birth) and has each year since then has had a book of Stephens' re-published. The group has also bought a 20-acre parcel of land located off the Greenwood Road in Norway, believed to be Stephens' childhood playground, the Tom's Fort location mentioned in his writing.

Selected Bibliography

  • Camping Out series
    • Camping Out: As Recorded by 'Kit' (1872)
    • Left on Labrador; or, the Cruise of the Schooner-Yacht 'Curlew,' as recorded by 'Wash' (1872)
    • Off to the Geysers; or, the Young Yachters in Iceland (1872)
    • Lynx Hunting: From Notes (1873)
    • Fox-hunting: As Recorded by Raed (1873)
    • On the Amazon, or, The Cruise of 'the Rambler' (1873)
  • The Knockabout Club series
    • The Knockabout Club in the woods: The adventures of six young men in the wilds of Maine and Canada (1881)
    • The Knockabout club alongshore: The adventures of a party of young men on a trip from Boston to the land of the midnight sun (1882)
    • The Knockabout club in the tropics: The adventures of a party of young men in New Mexico, Mexico, and Central America (1883)
  • The Young Moose Hunters: A Backwoods-Boy's Story (1882/1926)
  • Living matter: Its Cycle of Growth and Decline in Animal Organisms (1888)
  • Pluri-cellular man: Whence and What is the Intellect, or 'Soul' What Becomes of the Soul? Is it Possible to Save the Soul? From the Biological Standpoint (1892)
  • Long life: The Occasional Review of an Investigation of the Intimate Causes of Old Age and Organic Death, with a Design to Their Alleviation and Removal (1896; and reprinted thereafter as author determined)
  • The Nation's Responsibility for its Laborers on the Panama Canal: Notes of a Visit to the Isthmus During the Winter and Spring of 1904 (1904)
  • Natural salvation: The Message of Science; Outlining the First Principles of Immortal Life on the Earth (1906; and variously repubished -- 1907, 1909, 1913 -- after this, sometimes as Salvation by Science, often with subheading including 'the Evolution of the Human Brain and the Growth of Human Knowledge')
  • Pioneer Boys Afloat on the Mississippi : a Story of Louisiana Purchase Times (1907; also published as The Ark of 1803 )
  • Immortal Life: How It Will Be Achieved (1920)
  • The Old Squire series
    • When Life was Young at the Old Farm (1912; republished as The Fields are Adventure in 1985)
    • Haps and Mishaps at the Old Farm (1912)
    • A Great Year of Our Lives at the Old Squire's (1912)
    • A Busy Year at the Old Squire's (1922)
    • Molly's Baby; A Little Heroine of the Seas (1924)
  • Andros Island: Walter Wainwright: And The Strangest of Wedding Journeys (1923)
  • Stories of My Home Folks (1926)
  • Katahdin Camps (1928/1929)
  • My Folks in Maine (1934)
  • A Wildwood Romance (1935)
  • Grandfather's Broadaxe, and Other Stories of a Maine Farm Family (1967; reprints)
  • Under the Sea in the Salvador (1969; reprints of short stories)
  • C. A. Stephens looks at Norway (1970; reprints of short stories originally published in the Youth's Companion between 1874-1920;
  • Charles Adams tales (1973; compiled by Louise Harris; stories involving adventure in the wild, animals, and ghosts, reprinted from Youth's Companion)
  • Little Big-Heart and other stories (1974; comp. by Louise Harris)
  • Stories from the Old Squire's Farm (1985/1995; compiled and edited by Charles G. Waugh and Eric-Jon Waugh
  • The Jonah (1995; an illustrated publication of Stephens' most famous short-story, 'When Hannibal Hamlin Ate the Fried Pies')
  • Sailing on the Ice: And Other Stories from the Old Squire's Farm (1996; compiled and edited by Charles G. Waugh and Larry Glatz).

Selected Resources

  • The World of C.A. Stephens by Ronald G. Whitney (1976/1996).
  • Comprehensive Bibliography of C.A. Stephens (1965)by Louise Harris
  • Star of the Youth's Companion by Louise Harris (1969; an annotated chronological listing of his stories).
  • Bowdoin College's Library Special Collections and Archives has biographical information on Stephens and a description of 2,350 manuscripts and drafts of Stephens' books, speeches, and articles, in Bowdoin's archival collection.