Mary Louise Booth

Mary Louise Booth bigraphy, stories - Editor, translator and writer

Mary Louise Booth : biography

April 19, 1831 – March 5, 1889

Mary Louise Booth (April 19, 1831March 5, 1889) was an American editor, translator and writer. She was editor of Harper’s Bazaarheadquartered in New York City, New Yorkfrom its beginning in 1867 until her death. She was a prolific translator into English the works of French-language authors.


Booth died, age 57.

Early life

Booth was born in Millville, the present-day Yaphank, New York, to William Chatfield Booth and Nancy Monswell. She was descended on her father’s side from John Booth, who came to America about 1649, while her mother was the granddaughter of a refugee of the French Revolution (1789–1799).


At an early age, she contributed to various journals. In 1845 and 1846, Booth taught in her father’s school in Williamsburg, New York, but gave up that pursuit on account of her health, and devoted herself to literature.

Besides writing tales and sketches for newspapers and magazines, she translated from the French The Marble-Worker’s Manual (New York, 1856) and The Clock and Watch Maker’s Manual. She translated Joseph Méry’s André Chénier and Edmond François Valentin About’s The King of the Mountains for Emerson’s Magazine, which also published her own original articles. Booth next translated Victor Cousin’s Secret History of the French Court: or, Life and Times of Madame de Chevreuse (1859). That same year, the first edition of her History of the City of New York appeared, which was the result of great research. Next she assisted Orlando Williams Wight in making a series of translations of the French classics, and she also translated Edmund About’s Germaine (Boston, 1860).

During the American Civil War (1861–1865), Booth translated the works of eminent French writers in favor of the cause of the Union. In rapid succession appeared translations of: Agénor Gasparin’s Uprising of a Great People and America before Europe (New York, 1861), Édouard René de Laboulaye’s Paris in America (New York, 1865), and Augustin Cochin’s Results of Emancipation and Results of Slavery (Boston, 1862). For this work she received praise and encouragement from U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, U.S. Senator Charles Sumner, and other statesmen. During the entire war she maintained a correspondence with Cochin, Gasparin, Laboulaye, Henri Martin, Charles Forbes René de Montalembert, and other European sympathizers with the Union. At that time, she also translated the Countess de Gasparin’s Vesper, Camille, and Human Sorrows, and Count Gasparin’s Happiness. Documents forwarded to her by French friends of the Union were translated and published in pamphlets, issued by the Union League Club, or printed in the New York journals.

Booth’s next undertaking was a translation of Martin’s History of France. The two volumes treating of The Age of Louis XIV were issued in 1864, and two others, the last of the seventeen volumes of the original work, in 1866 under the title of The Decline of the French Monarchy. It was intended to follow these with the other volumes from the beginning, but, although she translated two others, the enterprise was abandoned for lack of success, and no more were printed. Her translation of Martin’s abridgment of his History of France appeared in 1880.

She also translated Laboulaye’s Fairy Book, Jean Macé’s Fairy Tales and Blaise Pascal’s Lettres provinciales (Provincial Letters).

An enlarged edition of her History of the City of New York was printed in 1867, and a second revised and updated edition in 1880.