Julia A. Mathews (Alice Grey) and Joanna Hooe Mathews

Almost no biographical information has been found about these sisters, authors of several girls' series, including some with a heavily religious slant. They were the daughters of Reverend James McFarlane Mathews (1785-1870) of New York, who helped found New York University and, in 1831, became its first Chancellor, a position he held for about nine years; he had previously taught at the Union Theological Seminary and held a pastorate in New York. In 1839, he stepped down for health reasons, and soon took up writing. According to his entry in National Cyclopedia of American Biography (which makes no mention whatsoever of his daughters or of his wife, Anne), he "spent the later years of his life in works of general benevolence, interesting himself ... in the cause of education, and promoting the welfare of young men." He was also responsible for organizing the Christian Union Council in 1870; he died that same year.

According to Dictionary of American Authors, Julia Mathews was born sometime in the 1830s; she is described as "A writer of Sunday-school fiction." Her early books were published under the pen name Alice Grey; her first book appeared in 1855 and her last in 1882.

Joanna H. Mathews, her sister, was born in New York in 1849. She was raised in New York, where she attended and graduated from Madame Reichard's School. She never married. Circa 1876, she moved to Summit, New Jersey, where she lived with family members until her death on 28 August 1901. Her first book was published in 1866; her last, in 1883. Her best-known writings were The Bessie Books. Like her father, Joanna Mathews was also remembered for her involvement with benevolent enterprises.

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