A Dictionary of Selected Jacksonian Writers

cited in Edgar Allan Poe's "A Chapter on Autography"

To purchase Poe's work with the printed version of this dictionary included, click on:


SANDERSON, John 1783-1844 - Having started to study law, he became a teacher, ultimately a professor of Latin and Greek in the Philadelphia high school. He wrote a number of non-fiction works, including (with his brother) two volumes of the Biography of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence (1820), a pamphlet opposing the plan to exclude classical languages from Girard College (1826), Sketches of Paris (1838) and portions of The American in London, which appeared in the Knickerbocker Magazine.

SARGENT, Epes 1813-1880 - A poet and a playwright who also wrote The Standard Speller; Containing Exercises for Oral Spelling and Sentences for Silent Spelling by Writing from Dictation In Which the Representative Words and the Anomalous Words of the English Language are so Classified as to Indicate Their Pronunciation, and to be Fixed in the Memory by Association.

SEDGWICK, Catherine Maria 1789-1867 – A popular novelist whose subjects included Native Americans and women’s issues. Her first novel A New-England Tale; or, Sketches of New-England Character and Manners (1822) grew out of her conversion to Unitarianism and ideas on religious tolerance. Redwood (1824) was her second. Her third, Hope Leslie (1827) made her America’s most famous woman novelist. A later novel, Married or Single? (1857) argued for a woman’s independence. Some of her many short stories were collected in Tales and Sketches (1835), Stories for Young Persons (1841), and Tales of City Life (1850).

SIGOURNEY, Lydia Huntley 1791-1865 - A precocious child, she had a genteel education, and taught young women before publishing Moral Pieces in Prose and Verse (1815). After marrying a Hartford merchant, she continued to write, at first for pleasure, then for income after her husband lost his fortune. She became a popular and prolific writer, who wrote over forty books as well as a number of articles. Her somewhat sentimental poetry was so popular on the Continent that the Queen of France gave her a diamond bracelet. Among her works are: "Traits of the Aborigines of America,” a poem (1822); Sketch of Connecticut Forty Years Since (1824); Letters to Young Ladies (which went through 20 editions from 1833 through 1853); the pro-temperance Water-Drops, (1847); Letters to My Pupils (1850); "The Faded Hope,” in memory of her son who died at nineteen (1852); and The Man of Uz, and other Poems (1862).

SIMMS, W. Gilmore 1806-1870 - Was already writing at seven. Lyricla and other poems (1827) was his first public attempt at literature (1827). His involvement with the Charlestown City Gazette which (in South Carolina) took the Union side in a controversy ruined him and in 1833 he devoted himself to literature. Though he wrote more poetry, he was most known as a writer of fiction, largely about the South, "The Yemassee” being his best-known novel. Poe called him America’s best novelist after Cooper, but he is not generally so well-regarded.

SLIDELL (MACKENZIE), Alexander 1803-1848 - (Mackenzie, his mother’s name, was a later addition.) An author, he was at least well-known as a naval officer, who served in the Mediterranean, the West Indies, near Brazil and in the Pacific. While on the brig “Somers” in 1842, he discovered plans for a mutiny and three seamen were executed. His conduct was subsequently approved, but the young men in question were of good family and the aftermath shadowed his life. His first book, A Year in Spain, by a Young American (1829), was immediately popular in America and in England. He also wrote Popular Essays on Naval Subjects (1833); The American in England (1835); Spain Revisited (1836); and several biographies of naval figures.

SMITH, Seba 1792-1868 – Though he edited several New England periodicals, his most famous production was a series of satirical letters under the pen-name of “Major Jack Downing”. These very popular pieces were published in a collection in 1833. His other works include the verse romance Powhatan (1841), New Elements of Geometry (1850) and Way Down East, or Portraitures of Yankee Life (1855).

SMITH, Richard Penn 1790-1854 - Lawyer, novelist dramatist, poet. From 1822-1827 he edited the Aurora. His first novel, The Forsaken (1831), concerns the American Revolution. He also wrote two volumes of short stories, entitled The Actress of Padua and other Tales, and many plays, including Caius Marius, William Penn, and The Water Witch. His plays were often produced and Smith helped develop a national American theater. He was also the anonymous author of Col. Crockett’s Exploits and Adventures in Texas, a hoax which helped mythologize Crockett.

SPARKS, Jared 1789-1866 - Minister, historian and professor at Harvard, he wrote a number of religious works and biographies, but above all collected the papers of George Washington and, with the authorization of Congress, The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution (1829-30). He was also. the originator and first editor of the American Almanac and Repository of Useful Knowledge (1830-'61).

SPRAGUE, Charles 1791-1875 - Yet another son of one of the participants in the Boston Tea Party, he was a banker and poet, well-known for his theatrical prologues, but also wrote for domestic pieces such as “The Brothers”, “I see Thee Still”, and “The Family Meeting”.” His work was collected in Prose and Poetical Writings, revised by the Author (1850).

STEDMAN, Elizabeth Clementine 1810-1889 - Essayist and poet. Contributed to numerous magazines, one of them, the Newark Daily Advertiser, edited by her second husband. Her poems have been collected in Poems (1867), Felicita (1855) and Bianca Cappella (1873). Her more famous son, Edmund Clarence Stedman, wrote one of the best essays on Poe and edited a standard edition of his work.

STEPHENS, Anne S. 1813-1886 - A New England author, she founded the Portland Magazine in 1835 and in 1836 published The Portland Sketchbook, a collection of local writing. Moving with her husband to New York in 1837, she edited The Ladies’ Companion and wrote for Graham’s Magazine and Peterson’s Magazine, then founded The Ladies’ World (1843) and The Illustrated New Monthly (1846). Her poem “The Polish Boy” was long a favorite. She also wrote several short stories. Her first long novel, Fashion and Famine (1854), went through several editions in France. She was admired for realistic if “intense” writing and did research in hospitals, institutions, etc.. Her other works include Zana, or the Heiress of Clare Hall (1854), The Old Homestead (1855), Sybil Chase (1862) and Ahmo's Plot (1863) as well as a Pictorial History of the War for the Union.

STOCKTON, Thomas Hewlings 1808-1868 - A doctor who became a clergyman, he was an abolitionist and a reformer. He left Baltimore for Philadelphia because of restrictions on the discussion of slavery. He served as chaplain to the United States House of Representatives (1833-5; 1859-62). He edited the Christian World and the Bible Times, and published a number of books derived from the Bible or on Christian subjects, as well as a ballad, “Stand Up for Jesus” (1858), and a number of other poems.

STONE, Colonel William Leete 1792-1844 - Raised in what were then the ‘wilds’ of New York State, he later used the experience in his fiction. He was editor of a number of upstate and Connecticut papers and helped edit The Knights of the Round Table, a Hartford literary journal. He was active in a number of causes, including Abolitionism and supporting Greek independence. He was successfully sued by James Fenimore Cooper for two reviews, to the dismay of those who felt this threatened the liberty of the press. Among his many works are several on New York State and Wyoming history, Tales and Sketches (1834), derived from native and Revolutionary sources and Border Wars of the American Revoluton (1837).

STORY, Joseph 1779-1845 – He served in Congress and the Massachusetts Legislature before becoming a Federal circuit judge and then serving on the Massachusetts Supreme Court (but several times refusing to become Chief Justice). He wrote more textbooks on jurisprudence than any other writer of his time, including Commentaries on the Law of Bailments (1832), Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833), Commentaries on the Conflict of Laws (1834) and Commentaries on Equity Jurisprudence (1835-'6).

STREET, Alfred B. 1811-1881 - A New York lawyer who edited the Northern Light (1843-1844) and became state librarian (1845). He was also successful as a poet with works such as The Burning of Schenectady, and other Poems (1842), Fugitive Poems (1846) and Frontenac, or the Atotarho of the Iroquois, a Metrical Romance (1849). He produced histories and other factual works as well, including The Council of Revision of the State of New York (1859), A Digest of Taxation in the United States (1863) and The Indian Pass, about explorations in Essex county, New York (1869).

copyright 2004, 2006 Jim Chevallier.
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