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Miriam Florence Squier Leslie (Folline)

Birthplace: New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, United States
Death: September 18, 1914 (78)
Place of Burial: The Bronx, Bronx County, New York, United States
Immediate Family:

Wife of Frank Leslie
Ex-wife of David Charles Peacock; E. G. Squier and Willie Wilde

Occupation: publisher and author
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Miriam Leslie

Miriam Florence Squier Leslie (also, Miriam Peacock and Miriam Wilde; June 5, 1836 – September 18, 1914) was an American publisher and author. She was the wife of Frank Leslie and the heir to his publishing business which she developed into a paying concern from a state of precarious indebtedness. After her husband's death, she changed her own name to his, Frank Leslie. The Leslie Woman Suffrage Commission was an organization formed by Carrie Chapman Catt using funds willed for the purpose by Leslie.

LESLIE, Mrs. Frank, business woman and publisher, born in New Orleans, La., in 1851. Her maiden name was Miriam Florence Folline, and she is a French Creole. She was reared in opulence and received a broad education, including all the accomplishments with many solid and useful attainments. She wrote much in youth and was already known in the world of letters, when she became the wife of Frank Leslie, the New York publisher. Mr. Leslie was an Englishman. His name was Henry Carter. He was born 29th March, 1821, in Ipswich, England, and died 10th January, 1880, in New York, N. Y. The name "Frank Leslie" was a pen-name he used in sketches published by him in the London "Illustrated News." In 1848 he came to the United States, assumed the name "Frank Leslie" by a legislative act, and engaged in literature and publication. Miss Folline went to Cincinnati during the Civil War, and finally to New York City. She was engaged in literary work there. One of the editors of Leslie's "Lady's Magazine" was sick and in poverty, and Miss Folline volunteered to do her work for her and give her the salary. The invalid died, and Miss Folline was induced to retain the position. In a short time she became the wife of Mr. Leslie, and their life was an ideally happy one. Her experience and talents enabled her to assist him greatly in the management of the many art publications of his house, and she learned all the details of the great business concern, of which she is now the head. During their married life Mr. and Mrs. Leslie made their summer home in "Interlaken Villa," Saratoga Springs, N. Y., and there they entertained Emperor Dom Pedro, of Brazil, and the Empress. Many other notable people were their guests, and in New York City Mrs. Leslie was, as she still is, one of the leaders of society. In 1877 the panic embarrassed Mr. Leslie, and he was compelled to make an assignment. Arrangements were made to pay off all claims in three years. A tumor developed in a vital part, and he knew that his fate was sealed. He said to his wife: "Go to my office, sit in my place, and do my work until my debts are paid." She undertook the task without hesitation, and she accomplished it with ease. Her husband's will was contested, and the debts amounted to $300,000, but she took hold of affairs and brought success out of what seemed chaos. She adopted the name Frank Leslie in June, 1881, by legal process. She is now sole owner and manager of the great publishing house. One of her published volumes is "From Gotham to the Golden Gate," published in 1877. She has spent her summers in Europe for many years. In 1890 she became the wife, in New York City, of William C. Kingsbury Wilde, an English gentleman, whom she met in London. Her hand had been sought by a number of titled men in Europe, but her choice went with her heart to Mr. Wilde. In European society she shone brilliantly. Her command of French, Spanish and Italian enabled her to enter the most cultured circles, and her personal and intellectual graces made her the center of attraction wherever she went. Mrs. Leslie is one of the most successful business women of the country. Her home is in New York City, and she is in full control of the business she has built up to so remarkable a success.

"Rents in our Robes," by Mrs. Frank Leslie, 1888


"Much to my own astonishment, the brief and hurried papers lately printed in various periodicals, setting forth some of my own impressions and experiences of the world we live in, have attracted much kindly notice; and so many friends have advised me to collect these stray leaves into one sheaf, that I have now done so, although I still must plead the haste and pressure of a more than usually crowded life to excuse the many imperfections of the world. Nor do I pretend that, with any amount of time or quiet, I should be competent to give judgment, ex cathedra, upon the social successes or solecisms I have noted. Who is competent? For while, in many ways, society is regulated by a code formed, indeed, by itself, but none the less of Draconian severity, society is, on the other hand, an aggregate of several thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of individuals, and each individual is, in some respects, a law unto him or herself, and, as ours is eminently a free country, what may appear quite right and justifiable to A, may arouse the anathema maranatha of B; whilst C, smiling cynically at both, plumes himself upon having found the veritable juste milieu.

And, speaking of the thousands or the hundreds of individuals, who, in our great city of New York, comprise what is called society, I was edited by noticing, the other day, that somebody, less afraid of the cathedra than myself, stated in the public prints that to speak of the "upper ten thousand" was a sad misnomer, since there were actually only about four hundred persons in society in New York, and that you could not go beyond this magic circle without touching some pitch, such as hard work, humble origin, ignorance of ancestry, or such like disgrace!

I read these words with a smile and a sigh, for it seems to me such a pity that America should wish to deny herself the virtues of her defects. We have not the treasures, or the traditions, or the calm serenity of monarchies which, for a thousand years, have been crystallizing and conserving all the treasures of civilized Time. Society, with us, is not, cannot be, the quiet growth of changeless aristocratic customs and unwritten law. I am not saying the fixed facts over there are more desirable than the rapid growth over here; but I say that each condition has its merits and demerits, and that, so long as we cannot rid ourselves of the changeful, chaotic, transitory nature of our social condition, it is highly desirable that we should cling to the breadth, the generosity, the sweet charity, which should be the virtue of such faults; and so long as we cannot attain to the grandeur of Versailles or Buckingham Palace, or tread our own halls with the consciousness that twenty generations of noble ancestors have trod them before us, let us not make haste to tack to our new robes the fads of prejudice, narrowness, short-sightedness and contemptuous intolerance, that are the defects of the virtues of hereditary aristocracy.

We Americans stand before the world as the Object Lesson of the Ages. A great people, a great country, unlimited opportunities, holding the inheritance of courage and self-respect, which led our ancestors from all the certainties of civilization to the unknown hazards of a savage land, let us not throw away the independence they so dearly bought; let us have the courage of our convictions, and let us build up, not only our social, but our political, our moral, our educational systems, upon the lines of broadest benevolence, of true human brotherhood, of sweet, wholesome respect for labor and the laborer, and of Christian law and order.

These are my convictions; these are my ideals; here is my standpoint; and whatever else, dear reader, you may find between the covers of this little book, do not forget that this creed underlies every utterance."

Mrs. Frank Leslie May, 1888

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Miriam Leslie's Timeline

June 5, 1836
New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, United States
September 18, 1914
Age 78
Woodlawn Cemetery, The Bronx, Bronx County, New York, United States