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Metta Victoria Full Victor [1831-1885]
Pen Names: Corinne Cushman, Eleanor Lee Edwards, Metta Fuller, Walter T. Gray, Mrs. Orrin James, Rose Kennedy, Louis LeGrand, Mrs. Mark Peabody, Seeley Register, The Singing Sybil, Mrs. Henry Thomas.
Metta Victor had a long, successful, and extremely prolific career as a writer of popular fiction, publishing poetry, fiction, mysteries, romances, short stories, social issue novels, humor, and even cookbooks. She is remarkable perhaps for the length of her career and her ability to change genres in order to change with the times. Unlike other popular fiction writers who had one formula to follow and whose careers faded when that formula went out of style, Victor was a flexible writer who adapted to the times and changing tastes of her readers. Her earlier works were representative of the sentimental style, focusing on domestic issues such as temperance and slavery. Her later works were more sensational in tone. One of her most important contributions to American literature was The Dead Letter, published in 1864 under the pen name Seeley Register, and credited as the first detective novel. Her later years were devoted to humor and sensational romances.
She was born in 1831 in Pennsylvania and moved with her family to Wooster, Ohio when she was eight years old. Like so many of the women included in this project, she began writing at a very early age. Her first book, Last Days of Tul, A Romance of the Lost Cities of Yucatan was published in 1847 when she was only fifteen years old. Her sister Frances Fuller was also a writer and they co-wrote Poems of Sentiment and Imagination published in 1850. In 1851, she published a temperance novel entitled The Senator's Son that was so well received it went into ten editions. Nathaniel Parker Willis, an influential editor of the story paper The New York Mirror, supported her work when she was still a teenager.
In 1856 she married Orville J. Victor, an editor for Daily Register in Sandusky Ohio. Around the time of her marriage she was offered a contract with The New York Weekly who gave her $25,000 for the exclusive rights to her stories for the next five years. The Victors then moved to New York City in 1858. Together they had nine children and somehow, despite the many burdens mothers and housewives faced in the nineteenth century and the strong social pressure for married women to focus on their children, Victor continued working.
After her contract for The New York Weekly expired, she worked primarily for Beadle & Adams, contributing numerous manuscripts to the firm using a series of pen names. Her first novel for Beadle & Adams in 1861 was Maum Guinea, an anti-slavery novel enjoyed by both Abraham Lincoln and Henry Ward Beecher, which was perhaps as popular at the time as its more famous counterpart, Uncle Tom's Cabin. In addition to writing stories for Beadle & Adams, from 1859 to 1861 she edited their periodical The Home. Though this periodical ceased publication only one and a half years after it was introduced, in 1861 Orville Victor joined Beadle and Adams, working as editor for the Dime Library, one of Beadle's most successful series. He would go on to become one of the most respected editors in the dime novel business, just as she remained an important and popular contributor for Beadle and Adams as well. She was still at work when she died of cancer at age 54 in the family home in Hohokus, New Jersey.
Works By Metta Victor In Chronological Order
Penn names listed when known.
Fuller, Metta. The Last Days of Tul: A Romance of the Lost Cities of Yucatan. Boston, 1846.
The Singing Sybil. The Tempter. New York Home Journal, 1846.
Fuller, Metta V. and Frances A. Poems of Sentiment and Imagination. New York: A.S. Barnes & Co., 1850.
Fuller, Metta. The Senator's Son; or, The Maine Law. A Last Refuge. 1851. [Reprint: Cleveland: Tooker and Gatche, 1853.]
Fuller, Metta. Fresh Leaves From Western Woods. Buffalo: G.H. Derby & Co., 1852. [Reprinted New York: C.M. Saxton, 1860.]
Fuller, Metta. Fashionable Dissipation. New York: United States Book Co., 1853.
Fuller, Metta. "The Arctic Queen." Sandusky, Ohio. 1856. [Poem].
Fuller, Metta. Mormon Wives; A Narrative of Facts Stranger Than Fiction. New York: Derby & Jackson, 1856. [Possible reprint: Lives of Female Mormons: A Narrative of Facts Stranger Than Fiction. Philadelphia: G.G. Evans, 1860.]
Victor, Mrs. Metta. Dime Recipe Book. A Directory for the Parlor, Nursery, Sick Room, Toilet, Kitchen, Larder, etc. New York: Irwin Beadle, 1859.
Peabody, Mrs. Mark. Miss Slimmens' Window, and Other Papers. New York: Derby & Jackson, 1859.
Victor, Mrs. Metta. The Dime Recipe Book. Beadle & Adams.1859.
Alice Wilde: The Raftsman's Daughter. A Forest Romance. New York: Beadle & Co., 1860. [This was reprinted in Beadle's New Dime Novels Series in 1881 as No. 504. Printed in London by G. Routledge and Sons, 1861.]
The Backwoods Bride. A Romance of Squatter Life. New York: Beadle & Co., 1860. [This was reprinted in Beadle's New Dime Novels Series in 1881 as No. 510.]
The Emerald Necklace; or, Mrs. Butterby's Boarder. New York: Beadle & Co., 1860. [This was reprinted in Beadle's New Dime Novels Series in 1881 as No. 520 under the name Rose Kennedy.]
Myrtle; or, The Child of the Prairie. New York: Beadle & Co., 1860. [This was reprinted in Beadle's New Dime Novels Series in 1883 as No. 544.]
The Gold Hunters: A Picture of Western Character and Pike's Peak Life. New York: Beadle & Co., 1861.
Maum Guinea and Her Plantation "Children:" or, Holiday-week on a Louisiana Estate; a Slave Romance. New York: Beadle & Co., 1861. [Note: This was a double number in Beadle's Dime Novels Series, No. 33, and sold for twenty cents. For those interested in reading this story or using it in the classroom it has been republished fairly recently including Freeport, New York: Books for Library Press, 1972.]
Uncle Ezekiel and His Exploits on Two Continents. New York: Beadle & Co., 1861. [This was reprinted in Beadle's New Dime Novels Series in 1883 as No. 539.]
Victor, Mrs. Metta. Beadles Dime Cook-Book; or, Housewife's Pocket Companion. Embodying what is Most Economic, Most Practical, Most Excellent. New York: Beadle & Adams, 1862.
The Unionist's Daughter; A Tale of Rebellion in Tennessee. New York: Beadle & Co., 1862. [Note: This was a double number in Beadle's Dime Novels Series, No. 40, and sold for twenty cents.]
Victor, Mrs. Metta. The Gold Hunters. New York: Beadle & Adams.1863.
Jo Daviess' Client; or, "Courting" in Kentucky. New York: Beadle & Co., 1863. [This was reprinted in 1881 in Beadles New Dime Library as No. 487.]
The Country Cousin. New York: Beadle & Co., 1864. [This title was reprinted in 1884 in the Waverly Library Octavo Edition, No. 25 by Rose Kennedy.]
The Dead Letter, an American Romance. New York: Beadle & Co., 1864.
Victor, Mrs. Metta. The Housewife's Manual: or, How to keep house and order a home; how to dye, cleanse and renovate; how to cut, fit, and make garments; how to cultivate plants and flowers; how to care for birds and household pets. New York, 1865. [Reprinted in 1902 by M.J. Ivers & Co., New York.]
Gray, Walter T. "Miss Slimmens Window:" Cosmopolitan Art Journal.*
Gray, Walter T. "Miss Slimmen's Boarding-House." Cosmopolitan Art Journal.*
Gray, Walter T. "A Bad Boy's Diary." Cosmopolitan Art Journal.*
Gray, Walter T. "The Rasher Family." Cosmopolitan Art Journal.*
Gray, Walter T. "The Naughty Girl's Diary." Cosmopolitan Art Journal.*
Gray, Walter T. "The Blunders of a Bashful Man". Cosmopolitan Art Journal.*
The Two Hunters; or, The Canon Campus. A Romance of the Santa Fe Trail. New York: Beadle & Co., 1865. [ Reprinted in 1879 in Beadle's New Dime Novels series, No. 448. Interesting to note that on the cover of this book no author's name is given. It seems that gender expectations in the series had now taken hold and audiences who could accept frontier stories written by women in the 1860s would reject them now.]
Regester, Seeley. Who Was He? A Story of Two Lives. New York: Beadle & Co., 1865.
Too True; A Story of Today. New York, 1868.
Edwards, Eleanor Lee. The Betrayed Bride; or, Wedded But Not Won. New York: Starr & Co., 1869. [Frank Star was an employee of Beadle & Adams. They used his name as publisher on one of their series.]
Regester, Seeley. The Figure Eight; or, The Mystery of Meredith Place.
New York: Beadle & Co., 1869.
The Gay Deceiver; or, the Bitterest of All Sorrow. No. 608. New
York: Beadle & Adams, The Saturday Journal, 1881-1882.
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