Mary Mapes was born to an affluent family in New York City on January 26th, 1831. Mary enjoyed a privileged city life where she received her education at home from the best tutors and governesses; she studied French, Latin, music, drawing, and literature. Mary met her husband, William Dodge - a lawyer and friend of her father’s - after her father bought some farmland from him in New Jersey. Mary and William married in 1851 and were married for seven years and had two sons before William passed away suddenly in 1858.
It was important to her to be able to maintain financial independence and support her sons even though she was now widowed, so Dodge began to write children’s stories. Her first collection, Irvington Stories (1864), highlighted the life of an American colonial family. The success of the Irvington Stories prompted her publisher to request more so she wrote what is now a classic and winner of an award from the French Academy, Hans Brinker: or, The Silver Skates (1865). After this success, she became an associate editor for the magazine Hearth and Home alongside Harriet Beecher Stowe, and later became the first editor of the children’s magazine St. Nicholas. Some famous contributors to her magazine include: Louisa May Alcott, Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain, and Frances Hodgson Burnett. She also wrote her own collection of poems; in 1904 she published Poems and Verses, as well as, the collection of children’s poems titled Rhymes and Jingles (1874).
While travelling in Europe, she met Candace Wheeler who invited her to her summer colony in the Catskills called Onteora Park. Dodge accepted this invitation and loved the park so much that she built a “cottage” there and named it “Yarrow” after all of the flowers that grew there. She spent many years in the Catskills and passed away in 1905 at the age of 74.