Miriam Florence Squier Leslie (also, Miriam Peacock and Miriam Wilde; June 5, 1836 – September 18, 1914) was an American publisher and author. She was the wife of Frank Leslie and the heir to his publishing business which she developed into a paying concern from a state of precarious indebtedness. After her husband's death, she changed her own name to his, Frank Leslie. The Leslie Woman Suffrage Commission was an organization formed by Carrie Chapman Catt using funds willed for the purpose by Leslie.
Early years and marriages
Miriam Florence Folline was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 5, 1836. She described her own childhood as "starved and pinched" as far as "love and merriment go." Leslie was the descendant of a noble Huguenot family. After a trip to France, in 1901, she claimed the title Baroness de Bazus. She apparently grew up in New York City, and was well educated in the French, Spanish and Italian languages. She was married four times. Her first marriage, March 25, 1854, was to David Charles Peacock. That marriage was annulled two years later, and she married her second husband, the anthropologist Ephraim Squier. When the editor of Frank Leslie's Lady's Magazine had fallen ill, probably in the late 1860s, she volunteered to fill in while the ill editor still received the salary. The editor died, and she took on the position permanently, the November 18, 1871, issue of the magazine appearing with the notation "conducted by Miriam F. Squier."
Marriage to Frank Leslie
She divorced Ephraim Squier on May 31, 1873, to marry publisher Frank Leslie. During their honeymoon, the couple met Western poet and author Joaquin Miller. The new Mrs. Leslie and Miller began an affair and the main character in his book The One Fair Woman was modeled after her. The Leslies' summer home was in Saratoga Springs, New York, where they entertained many notables, and she was a leader in society. In 1877, they took a lavish train trip with a numerous retinue from New York City to San Francisco. She wrote her recollections of this trip in her book From Gotham to the Golden Gate. The expense of the trip, and a business depression left Leslie's business badly in debt.
When Frank Leslie died in 1880, the debts amounted to $300,000, and his will was contested. Miriam Leslie took the business in hand and put it on a paying basis, even going so far as to having her name legally changed to Frank Leslie in June 1881. She later effected a reorganization of the business, and became its president. The circulation of the Popular Monthly increased 200,000 in four months under her management.
Death and legacy
She was the author of:
- California: a pleasure trip from Gotham to the Golden Gate, April, May, June, 1877 (1877)
- Rents in our Robes (1888)
- Are Men Gay Deceivers? and Other Sketches (1893)
- A Social Mirage (1899)
- Young 1929, p. 9.
- A. Everett Peterson (1933). "Leslie, Miriam". Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. This source gives her birthdate as c. 1836.
- John H. Leinhard No. 1799: Miriam F. Leslie, KUHF Houston
- Frances Elizabeth Willard; Mary Ashton Rice Livermore (1893). A woman of the century. pp. 459–460. This source gives her birthdate as 1851.
- Marberry, M. M. Splendid Poseur: Joaquin Miller—American Poet. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1953: 139.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). . New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead. The 1915 edition of this source gives 1828 as her birthdate.
- Young, Rose Emmet (1929). The Record of the Leslie Woman Suffrage Commission, Inc., 1917-1929, by Rose Young. New York: The Leslie Woman Suffrage Commission, Inc.
- Richard Reinhardt, 1967, Out West on the Overland, The Frank Leslie Party, 1877, The American West Publishing Company, Palo Alto CA
- Smithsonian Magazine, November 1997.
- Madeleine B. Stern, 1953, Purple Passage: The Life of Mrs. Frank Leslie, University of Oklahoma Press, 1971.
- Mrs. Frank Leslie (1972). California: a pleasure trip from Gotham to the Golden Gate, April, May, June, 1877. Nieuwkoop, Netherlands: B. De Graaf. Full text facsimile from American Memory with a biographical introduction by Madeleine B. Stern.
- Mrs. Frank Leslie (1877). California: a pleasure trip from Gotham to the Golden Gate. (April, May, June, 1877.). New York: G. W. Carleton & Co. Facsimile of the original 1877 publication at archive.org.
- Miriam Leslie at Find a Grave
- Allene Alder and Jennilyn Brockbank, "The Transcontinental Tourist: The Writings and Travels of Miriam F. Leslie, 1877"
- Mrs. Frank Leslie (1896). Are we all deceivers?: The lover's blue book. New York: F. Tennyson Neely.