Ann S. Stephens

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Ann Sophia Stephens
Ann S. Stephens LibraryCompany a lg cropped.jpg
Ann S. Stephens, circa 1844
BornMarch 30, 1810[1]
DiedAugust 20, 1886[1]
Newport, Rhode Island
Other namesJonathan Slick
OccupationEditor, writer, humorist

Ann Sophia Stephens (1810–1886) was an American novelist and magazine editor. She was the author of dime novels and is credited as the progenitor of that genre.

Early life[edit]

Ann Sophia Stephens was born on March 30, 1810 in Derby, Connecticut,[2] she was the daughter of Ann and John Winterbotham, son of William Winterbotham. He was the manager of a woolen mill owned by Col. David Humphreys. Her mother died early and she was brought up by her mother's sister, who eventually became her stepmother. She was educated at a dame school in South Britain, Connecticut and started writing at an early age.[3] She married Edward Stephens, a printer from Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1831 and they relocated to Portland, Maine.[4] The actress Clara Bloodgood was the daughter of their son, Edward Stephens, a well known New York lawyer.[5]


Cover of Malaeska, the Indian Wife of the White Hunter (1860)

While in Portland, she and her husband co-founded, published and edited the Portland Magazine, a monthly literary periodical where some of her early work first appeared.[3] The magazine was sold in 1837. They moved to New York where Ann took the job of editor to The Ladies Companion and where she could further her literary work. This was also the time she adopted the humorous pseudonym Jonathan Slick. Over the next few years she wrote over twenty-five serial novels plus short stories and poems for several well known periodicals which included Godey's Lady's Book and Graham's Magazine.[6] Her first novel Fashion and famine was published in 1854. She started her own magazine Mrs Stephens' Illustrated New Monthly in 1856, it was published by her husband.[7] The magazine merged with Peterson's Magazine a few years later.

The term "dime novel" originated with Stephens's Malaeska, the Indian Wife of the White Hunter, printed in the first book in Beadle & Adams's Beadle’s Dime Novels series, dated June 9, 1860. The novel was a reprint of Stephens's earlier serial that appeared in the Ladies' Companion magazine in February, March, and April 1839. Later, the Grolier Club listed Malaeska as the most influential book of 1860.[8] Some of her other work includes High Life in New York (1843), Alice Copley: A Tale of Queen Mary's Time (1844), The Diamond Necklace and Other Tale (1846), The Old Homestead (1855), The Rejected Wife (1863) and A Noble Woman (1871).


  1. ^ a b McHenry, Robert, ed. (1980), Famous American Women: A Biographical Dictionary from Colonial Times to the Present (2nd ed.), Courier Dover Publications, p. 392, ISBN 0486245233.
  2. ^ Linkon, Sherry Lee (1997). In her own voice: nineteenth-century American women essayists. Taylor & Francis. p. 114. ISBN 0-8153-2652-1.
  3. ^ a b The National cyclopaedia of American biography. J. T. White company. 1900. p. 20.
  4. ^ "Portraits of American Women Writers". Ann S. Stephens. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
  5. ^ Edward Stephens (obituary) New York Times October 2, 1913 pg. 11
  6. ^ Tebbel, John. A History of Book Publishing in the United States – Volume I: The Creation of an Industry (1630-1865). New York City: R.R. Bowker Co., 1972. p. 248
  7. ^ James, Edward; Janet Wison James; Paul S. Boyer (1971). Notable American women, 1607–1950. Harvard University Press. pp. 360–362. ISBN 0-674-62734-2.
  8. ^ Nelson, Randy F. The Almanac of American Letters. Los Altos, California: William Kaufmann, Inc., 1981: 201. ISBN 0-86576-008-X

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