James T. Fields

Portrait photography of James Thomas Fields

Dublin Core


James T. Fields


Fields, James Thomas, 1817-1881
Atlantic Monthly


James T. Fields is immensely influential as an editor and publisher in the late nineteenth century. William Ticknor is his business partner and Ticknor & Fields purchase The Atlantic Monthly in 1859. James is an editor from 1861-71 (successor: William Dean Howells). He marries writer Annie Fields in 1854. (Among the important authors publishing their work in The Atlantic Monthly is Sarah Orne Jewett. After James T. Fields' death in 1881, Annie Fields is living with Jewett until her death in 1909.)
Charlotte Cushman frequently exchanges letters with the Fields starting in 1860s. Their friendship with Charlotte Cushman is particularly interesting for the 1860s and 1870s, when Cushman relies on her friendship with the Fields to meet new people in Europe or to foster connections to newspapers and magazines in the US. In 1871, for instance, Cushman asks Annie Fields for James Fields to publish a comment in her favor in the [Boston Daily?] Advertiser or [Boston Daily?] Evening Transcript. Their letters, however, do not only offer insights into business matters. Charlotte Cushman regularly mentions both Emmas, Crow and Stebbins, when writing to the Fields, which suggest a certain relationship of intimacy and trust with the married couple.
James Fields is part of the Dante Club, a gathering of literary men including Henry James and W.D Howells. Together the Fields occupy the center of Boston's literary life.



Person Item Type Metadata

Birth Date



Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Death Date






Secondary Texts: Comments

In May 1861, James Fields asked Charlotte Cushman for a loan on behalf of Fields & Ticknor (Leech 309; CCP 11:3293).

Gollin evaluates Fields role for the Atlantic:
"Ticknor had purchased the Atlantic Monthly on 20 October 1859 while the Fieldses were in Paris, "though of course not without correspondence and consultation." The 'Magazine of Literature, Art, and Politics' had then been in existence for two years, edited by James Russell Lowell and widely respected as a serious if essentially regional publication with high literary and moral standards. But its circulation has remained relatively low, the publishers Phillips, Sampson & Co. went bankrupt, and the bid Ticknor was cajoled into making turned out to be the only one. EVen before returning to America, Fields as the firm's "literary partner" undertook to increase the magazine's circulation by soliciting lively manuscripts from well-established writers as well as neophytes. He urged Sophia and Nathanial Hawthorne to submit manuscripts, for example, and welcomed Stowe's promise of a new story. By the time Fields replaced Lowell as editor in the summer of 1861, the Atlantic had become the country's most prestigious and most influential literary periodical."
Gollin also sketches James's political agenda: "Because one of his goals as Atlantic editor was to advance the liberal political beliefs he and Annie shared with most of their friends, he welcomed manuscripts that sympathetically presented struggles of blacks, native Americans, and the urban poor. […] Once Fields took over [July issue 1861], the magazine became livelier, it began paying its own way, and its sphere of influence soon extended beyond New England to new York, with submissions and subscriptions flowing in from Ohio, California, and even London" (35).

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“James T. Fields,” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed July 19, 2024, https://www.archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/59.

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