“Fanny Fern” was Sara Payson Willis (1811-1872), whose father, Nathaniel Willis, founded and edited Youth’s Companion. Escaping a bad second marriage, and with two children to support, Sara turned to writing: her first essay appeared in the Olive Branch and was quickly reprinted. She soon became one of the most highly paid authors in 19th-century America; three years after her first essay was published, Sara was hired to write one essay a week for the New York Ledger for the unheard-of sum of $100 per column. Alternately humorous, satiric, and sentimental, her pieces cover the range of 19th-century American life, from the death of children to the delicate subterfuges of a widow eager to remarry.
Many of the pieces were gathered into two collections, both titled Fern Leaves from Fanny’s Portfolio.
They are available as plain text files (without page numbers) at Project Gutenberg.
They’re available here as HTML, with illustrations and page numbers.
Both collections have been put together into one ebook.
Notices and reviews of both collections are on a separate page.
(Thanks for Dr. Deidre Johnson for loan of her complete copy of series one. Visit her web site devoted to 19th Century Girls’ Series books.)