Margaret Sidney (1844-1924) [pseudonym for Harriett Mulford Stone], American author wrote The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (1881).
The Pepper family would soon become beloved by readers all over America. Young people avidly followed the adventures of Ben, Polly, Joel, Davie, and Phronsie. While faced with many plausible trials and obstacles they remain eternally optimistic in the face of adversity, and reflect the real life issues of so many of their readers. Their universally appealing wholesome values and lives are not burdened with a heavy moralising tone which was present in many other popular works of the day.
Harriett Mulford Stone was born on 22 June 1844 in New Haven, Connecticut. Her father was Sidney Mason Stone, an architect. The Stone family often traveled in rural New England, such visits providing material and inspiration for the young and creative Harriet's future stories and characters.
Sidney started her career writing short stories, the first being "Polly Pepper's Chicken Pie" which she submitted to the Boston children's magazine Wide Awake. With its popularity and readers' requests for more, editor Daniel Lothrop asked her to do a 12-part series on the Peppers. Sidney was now a household name and her first novel The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew was an instant success. Titles to follow were The Five Little Peppers Midway (1890), The Five Little Peppers Grown Up (1892), The Stories Polly Pepper Told (1899), The Five Little Peppers Abroad (1902), The Five Little Peppers and their Friends (1904), and The Five Little Peppers in the Little Brown House (1907).
In 1881 Sidney married Lothrop, who was also the founder of the D. Lothrop Publishing Company of Boston. They had one daughter, Margaret, born in 1884. Lothrop died on 18 March 1892. Sidney and her daughter traveled to Europe a number of times in the winters, and spent the rest of their time living at "The Wayside" at 455 Lexington Road in Concord, Massachusetts. It was once the home of Nathaniel Hawthorne, now a National Historic Landmark and museum. Like her husband, Sidney was active in local and national civic and historical causes, including the preservation of their grand home "The Wayside" and commemorating the life and works of Hawthorne of whom she admired greatly. She was involved with the Daughters of the American Revolution, Old Concord Chapter, and for a number of years founder (in 1895) and president of the National Society of the Children of the American Revolution. She was also instrumental in the preservation of Louisa May Alcott's "Orchard House".
Although Sidney loved children and loved writing for them The Peppers were not the only works she produced. She wrote poetry, fiction and non-fiction for adults including Old Concord: Her Highways and Byways (1898). Many of her articles were published in magazines and newspapers including The Practical Housekeeper and The Christian Union. The Wayside: Home of Authors (1940) was Sidney's last tribute to the rich history of Concord and its writers.
While living with her daughter in California, she died in San Francisco on 2 August 1924 and is buried on Author's Ridge of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts, among other such illustrious authors as Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Biography written by C.D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. Copyright Jalic Inc 2006. All Rights Reserved.
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