Return to top
Maine Women Writers Collection

Ann Sophia Winterbotham Stephens Collection, 1835-1892

Click here for Container List

Volume: .25 linear feetstephensa-malaeska cover-2000w

Organization/Arrangement: Organized as a single series.

Biographical Note: Ann Stephens, one of the most widely read 19th-century American writers, was born in Humphreysville, Connecticut. In 1831 she and Edward Stephens married and moved to Portland, Maine. Three years later they began publishing Portland Magazine. He was the publisher and she, the editor/writer. Ann Stephens published her first book, The Portland Sketch Book, in 1836, a collection of local writers’ work and in 1837 the Stephens moved to New York City where Ann Stephens began her long career as a magazine writer and editor. She was associated with Ladies Companion, Graham's Magazine, and Peterson's Magazine. Stephens started her own magazine in 1856, Mrs. Stephens' Illustrated New Monthly and 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 that Stephens' numerous avid readers quickly purchased. Stephens met Edgar Allan Poe, editor of Graham's Magazine, when she was on the periodical’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 writers in the publisher’s stable.

In addition to her novels and short stories, Stephens also wrote verse and literary reviews. One of her poems, "The Cable" was set to the music of "The Star Spangled Banner." She was one of several contemporaries of Melville who found little worth in The Confidence Man (1857). 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, which is an edited version of the piece "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), by Jonathan Slick, Esq., of Weathersfield, Connecticut.

Description: The majority of the collection material consists of Stephens' published works in periodicals of her time, including an 1859 open letter to Victor Hugo. Also included are one manuscript poem, a bibliography of her published pieces in The Ladies Companion, 1838-1839, and a piece combining biographical information and literary criticism of Ann Stephens written in 1880.

Access Restrictions: None

Please cite as: Ann Sophia Winterbotham Stephens Collection, Maine Women Writers Collection, University of New England, Portland, Maine

Container List:
001.  "In the Middle Distance" [manuscript], May 8, 1846
002.  "David Hunt, A Story of Western Life" Leisure Hour Library, April 19, 1884
003.  "An Old Man's Sacrifice" Leisure Hour Library, v.II no.138, undated
004.  "Rock Run, or, The Daughter of the Island" Arm Chair Library, April 29, 1893?
005.  Mrs. Stephen's Illustrated New Monthly, April 1857
006.  "Ann Stephens and the Beadle Dime Novel" article by Madeleine B. Stern, 1980
007.  Copy of encyclopedia biography
008.  Report on Grand Union Meeting Bangor, includes text of ASS letter to Victor Hugo, 1860
009.  Bibliography of Ladies Companion articles
010.  Display copy photos
011.  Engraved portrait of Ann Stephens
012.  Dust jacket from John Day reprint of Malaeska
013.  "The Soldier's Orphans" chapters 22-24 [pages from periodical]
014.  "The Broken Troth-Plate" chapters 1 [pages from periodical]
015.  "Marie Antoinette's Talisman" chapters 17-19 [pages from periodical]
016.  "Maid of Honor" chapters 2-3; 12-13 [pages from periodical]
017.  "The Bride of the Prairie" chapters 1 and 9 [pages from periodical]
018.  "The Violated Vow" published in newspaper 1859 (photocopy--original in Periodical OVS)
019.  "The Daughter," published in periodical in installments (photocopy--original in Periodical OVS), 1836-1837
020.  ALS to Mr. Walker

Featured Writers