Born on June 22, 1844, Margaret Sidney is a name associated with the well loved Five Little Peppers, but the woman behind the name was also deeply involved in historic preservation in her hometown of Concord, Massachusetts.
Harriett Mulford Stone (Margaret Sidney was her pseudonym) began sending short stories to Wide Awake, a children’s magazine published by Daniel Lothrop, in 1878. Two stories in particular caught his eye and soon “Polly Pepper’s Chicken Pie” and “Phronsie Pepper’s New Shoes” were in the hands of the magazine’s readers. It wasn’t only the stories that caught that editor’s eye, however, and in 1881 author and editor married.
That same year Lothrop’s company published The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, the first of twelve books about the cheerful Pepper children. In 1887 the Boston Evening Transcript wrote; “Margaret Sidney exhibits one secret of her success in the writing of books…she puts aside her own personality and throws her whole heart into whatever interests those around her.”
Historic homes like Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House (where she wrote Little Women) and Grapevine Cottage (where the first Concord grape was developed) remain another lasting legacy of the author’s dedication and are still standing because of her efforts. When her husband died, Harriet Mulford Stone Lothrop ran the publishing house for two years before selling. That publishing company eventually became Lothrop, Lee & Shepard. Mrs. Lothrop died in 1924.