May Agnes Fleming was born November 15, 1840 in New Brunswick, Canada. She began her writing career early, around the age of seventeen, and contributed stories to the New York Mercury and theBoson Pilot under her pen names Miss M. A. Earlie and Cousin May Carleton. Although convention often demanded that women quit working upon their marriages, after her marriage to John W. Fleming in 1865, Fleming continued her writing career, dropping her pen name and writing under her new married name, May Agnes Fleming. The couple moved to his hometown of Brooklyn, New York after their marriage where she resided until her death. She had four children, three sons and one daughter. She died on March 24, 1880 at the age of forty.

She a successful and lucrative career as a writer of dime novels for publishers such as Beadle & Adams and Street & Smith. She developed a solid reputation and solid readership writing for Saturday Night, a weekly story paper which ran from 1867 to 1901. The publishers paid her $50 per segment for a total of $850 for each story (Johannsen, Vol. II, 112).

According to Papashivily, in All the Happy Endings, Fleming was first developed as a writer by The New York Mercury in direct response to E.D.E.N. Southworth’s run away success and popularity in Robert Bonnor’s story paper The New York Ledger (105). In 1871 she signed a contract with Street & Smith to write for their New York Weeklyexclusively. After the stories had appeared serially in the story paper, G.W. Carleton published them in book form.


Johannsen, Albert. The House of Beadle and Adams and its Dime and Nickel Novels: The Story of a Vanished Literature. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1950.

Papashvily, Helen White. All The Happy Endings: A Study of the Domestic Novel in America, the Women Who Wrote It, the Women Who Read It, in the Nineteenth Century. New York: Harper and Bros., 1956.