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Francis, Mary O.

A reference in Allibone gives "Margaret Blount, pseudonym of Mrs. Mary O'Francis," but the latter name does not appear elsewhere in the book as an actual author. The name should have been given as "Mary O. Francis," but neither is that name given. The various dictionaries of pseudonyms seem to have followed Allibone in giving the name O'Francis without checking for accuracy.

Since Mary O'Francis, given by Allibone, comes closest to the true name MARY O. FRANCIS, it is under the latter that the scanty data collected about "Margaret Blount" will be brought together here. The various names apparently belonging to her are very confusing since no biographical links between them have been discovered.

"Margaret Blount" was born in America, for at the beginning(1) of one of her stories which appeared in Reynolds' Miscellany in the late 1850's or early 1860's she said: "Though now in England. . . . I must remind the reader that I am an American by birth."

In the 1850's she was writing for Bonner's New York Ledger under the name "Mary A. Stanley."(2)

She used the name Margaret Blount when she was in England in the early 1860's, and the British Museum Catalogue gives the name of the publisher of the London Saturday Night as M. Blount. For this periodical and for Reynolds' Miscellany she wrote stories under this name.

In an undated letter from Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth(3) to Robert Bonner, she wrote: "I was surprised to see MARY STANLEY GIBSON'S letter and still more to see by that that she was about to commence a novel for the Miscellany. I suppose that that means her paper Saturday Night has stopped." This definitely ties Mary Stanley Gibson directly to the owner of Saturday Night, Margaret Blount.

She was back in America in the early 1860's, for she wrote in the introduction to her novel "The Heir of Balfour Hall" which appeared in 1867, "I can remember during my sojourn in England . . . ."(4)

There are a number of letters from her in the Bonner collection in the New York Public Library. In some cases she signs herself "Mary Francis," "Mary O. Francis," or "M. A. O. Francis." In one letter written November 10, 1876, at Woodstock, Vermont, she mentions writing under the name "Margaret Blount" for the Philadelphia Saturday Night. This is also mentioned in a letter of August 22, 1874, thus definitely tying together the names Margaret Blount and Mary O. Francis.

Finally, adding another name to her chain, in an undated letter from Florence Heights, New Jersey, she wrote, "Family reasons have led me to drop the name Lane till the English lawsuit is decided and I have taken one of my own family names instead—Francis."

There are thus the names Margaret Blount, Mary O. Francis, Mary A. Stanley, and Mary Stanley Gibson. All of these names, with the possible exception of the first, if we accept Allibone, are real and not pseudonymous, and of the first, Mr. H. W. Ralston, vice-president of Street & Smith, for whom she wrote, said, "Margaret Blount is the actual name of an author."(5)

Among the various novels written for various publishers other than Beadle were "Kitty Atherton," "Barbara Home," "The Downes Reserve," "The Orphan of Charnley," "The Baron's Well," "Mr. Warburton's Ghost," and "Clifford and the Actress." Her last novel appears to have been published in the 1890's. Most of her stories have a New England background, mainly Massachusetts.

Under the name "Margaret Blount" Beadle published:
Twenty-five Cent Novels. No. 2
Starr's Fifteen Cent Illustrated Novels. Nos. 8, 10, 12
Saturday Journal. No. 359
Cheap Edition of Popular Authors. Nos. 5, 16, 24
Fireside Library. Nos. 39, 42, 54
Waverley Library (quarto). Nos. 62, 138, 155
Waverley Library (octavo). No. 53


1 Notes and Queries, V, 9th series, January 6, 1900, 16.
2 For this and much of the following information I am indebted to Miss Mary Noel, the author of Villains Galore, (New York, 1954), in letters of August 10 and 22, 1954.
3 Noted in a letter from Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth to Robert Bonner, undated but probably about 1863, and now in the Southworth collection at Duke University Library.
4 New York Weekly, XXII, March 14, 1867.
5 In litteris, January 20, 1943.

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