Portraits of American Women Writers That Appeared in Print Before 1861 - Header and Menu


ANN S. STEPHENS (1810 – 1886)

Charles J. Peterson. “Our Contributors. – XV. Mrs. Ann S. Stephens,” in Graham’s Magazine 26 (1844): 234-36, frontispiece.

ANN S. STEPHENS (1810 – 1886)

As a child in her family's Connecticut home, Ann Stephens listened to her father read aloud in the evenings and resolved to become a writer. After finishing her studies at the local "dame school," she married Edward Stephens in 1831 and relocated to Portland, Maine, where she and her husband co-founded and edited a monthly literary periodical called the Portland Magazine and issued a collection of work by local writers.

In 1837 they moved to New York City, and while her husband gave up editing to work in a customs house, she further pursued her literary career. She joined the editorial staff at Graham's and Peterson's magazines and contributed extensively to several other local periodicals. Many of her contributions were novels printed in serial form, over twenty-five of which eventually appeared as full-length volumes. During the early 1860s, she contracted with the publishing firm Irwin P. Beadle and Company to produce a seven-book series of "dime novels," and the income she received from her publications and editorial work comfortably supported her two sons and husband.

During the Civil War Ann Stephens compiled a Pictorial History of the War for the Union and chaired a New York women's committee that advocated rationing and modest living to support northern troops. She was one of the best-known writers on the New York scene of her day and died at the home of Charles Peterson (owner of Peterson's Magazine) at the age of seventy-six.

In 1846, Edgar Allan Poe described her in his “The Literati of New York City. No. III,” in Godey’s Lady’s Book, v. 33, p. 15:

The portrait of Mrs. Stephens which appeared in "Graham's Magazine" for November, 1844, cannot fairly be considered a likeness at all. She is tall and slightly inclined to embonpointan English figure. Her forehead is somewhat low, but broad; the features generally massive, but full of life and intellectuality. The eyes are blue and brilliant; the hair blonde and very luxuriant.

Other portraits appear in:

John S. Hart, ed. Female Prose Writers of America (1852), plate opposite p. 193.

Sarah J. Hale, ed. Woman’s Record (1853), p. 796; also 1855 ed.

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper (Aug. 16, 1856), p. 160.

Henry Coppée, ed. A Gallery of Distinguished English and American Female Poets (1860), p. 340.



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