Mary Jane Holmes ( Mary J. Holmes) was a bestselling and prolific American author who wrote 39 popular novels, as well as short stories. Her first novel sold 250,000 copies; and she had total sales of 2 million books in her lifetime, second only to Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Mary Jane Holmes, nee Hawes (1825-1907) was an American author who wrote many popular novels. Holmes was born in Brookfield, Massachusetts. At age 13 she taught in a school. She married Daniel Holmes and they settled in Versailles, Kentucky. In 1854 she wrote her first novel, Tempest and Sunshine. The theme for most of her novels was domestic life. Other works include: The English Orphans; or, A Home in the New World (1855), 'Lena Rivers (1856), Homestead on the Hillside (1856), Meadow Brook (1857), Dora Deane; or, The East India Uncle (1859), Cousin Maude (1860), Rosamond Maude (1860), Darkness and Daylight (1864), Hugh Worthington (1865), Family Pride; or, Purified by Suffering (1867), Ethelyn's Mistake (1869), Edna Browning; or, The Leighton Homestead (1872), West Lawn (1874), Edith Lyle's Secret (1876), Forrest House (1879), Christmas Stories (1885), Bessie's Fortune (1885), Tracy Park (1886), Gretchen (1887), Paul Ralston (1897), The Cromptons (1899) and Bad Hugh (1900).
Portraying domestic life in small town and rural settings, she examined gender relationships, as well as those of class and race. She also dealt with slavery and the American Civil War, with a strong sense of moral justice. Her popular work was excluded from most 19th-century literary histories, but she has received recognition and reappraisal since the late 20th century.