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19th Century Girls' Series

Long before Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Sweet Valley High, the Babysitters' Club, Goosebumps, or Animorphs, series books provided a source of enjoyable fiction for children. The first children's fiction series appeared in the United States in the 1830s, and by the 1860s the genre was well-established and earning both praise and censure.

I've been researching series books for over twenty-five years. This page draws upon some of that research; it is devoted to bio-bibliographies and commentary about some 19th-century authors of series books for girls and younger children as well as samples of some of their fiction. It includes some of the century's most popular authors and a number of lesser-known figures whose works -- now almost forgotten -- show the evolution of the genre. Eventually, I hope to expand the coverage to authors writing in the early part of the 20th century and to add additional etexts and a bibliography of secondary sources.

Currently, the site includes

Author Information Etexts Supplementary
(Primary Sources)
Jacob Abbottbiography
bibliography -- girls' ser.
Cousin Lucy's Stories, chs. 1-4
Juno and Georgie, chs. 5-6
(first African-American series protagonist),
Mary Gay - Work for Autumn,ch 1

Friskie, the Pony
Harlie's Letter
biographical essay
by Lyman Abbott (Jacob's son)
Walter Aimwell
(William Simonds)
series bibliography
Harriette Newell Woods Baker
("Aunt Hattie," "Mrs. Madeline Leslie")
bibliography -- girls' ser.
Robin's Nest   
Elizabeth Champney biography
bibliography -- girls' ser.
   19th cent. biog. sketch
with portrait
Susan Coolidge
(Sarah Chauncey Woolsey)
biographical blurb
bibliography -- girls' ser.
"Engineer's Story" (short story)  
Amanda Douglas biography
bibliography -- girls' ser.
   Kathie's Three Wishes, ch 1. -
Martha Finley biography
bibliography -- girls' ser.
Elsie Dinsmore, ch. 1- 19th-cent. biography -- Finley
19th-century critique of Elsie
Josephine Franklin series bibliography Nelly's First School-days   
Joanna Mathews biographical blurb
bibliography -- girls' ser.
Julia Mathews biographical blurb      
Sophie May
(Rebecca Sophia Clarke)
bibliography -- girls' ser.
Little Prudy, ch 1-5
Little Prudy's Sister Susy
Dotty Dimple at Her Grandmother's
(Isabella Macdonald Alden)
bibliography -- girls' ser.
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps
(1815 - 1852)
bibliography -- girls' ser.
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps [Ward] (1844 - 1911) bibliography -- girls' ser.    19th-cent. biographical essay
Elizabeth Prentiss biography
bibliography -- girls' ser.
Little Susy's Six Birthdays   
Laura Richards bibliography -- girls' ser.    A Sampling of Poems
Penn Shirley
(Sarah Jones Clarke)
biographical sketch
series bibliography
19th-century girls' reading
(adult responses to popular fiction)
      "Evil of Unlimited Freedom
in the Use of Juvenile Fiction"

Library Journal (1879)
"Reading in the Public Schools"
Library Journal (1879)
Grace Shirley
(Lurana Sheldon)
biographical sketch
My Queen bibliography
(the only girls' dime novel series)
My Queen #3 (dime novel)
"Sam Stebbins' Courtship"
(short story)
Paper: Urban Images in
Street & Smith's My Queen

I've also started a listing of the contents (thus, an informal index) for Dime Novel Round-Up,
the longest-running publication devoted to the study of dime novels, series books, and pulp magazines.
Currently, the list covers 1989-2000; information about earlier issues will be added.


If you find errors or would like to suggest additional authors or texts for inclusion here, please email me.

At another site, I've put up biographical and bibliographic information about Josephine Lawrence ,
who ghostwrote 20th-century girls' and tots' series for the Stratemeyer Syndicate and also created some notable series published under her own name.

Last updated March 16, 2001 (What's new)

Copyright 1999-2001 by Deidre Johnson

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