Open main menu

James De Mille (23 August 1833 – 28 January 1880) was a professor at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, and an early Canadian popular writer who published numerous works of popular fiction from the late 1860s through the 1870s.

James De Mille
Born(1833-08-23)August 23, 1833
DiedJanuary 28, 1880(1880-01-28) (aged 46)



He was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, son of the merchant and shipowner, Nathan De Mille. He attended Horton Academy in Wolfville and spent one year at Acadia University. He then travelled with his brother Elisha Budd to Europe, spending half a year in England, France and Italy. On his return to North America, he attended Brown University, from which he obtained a Master of Arts degree during 1854. He married Anne Pryor, daughter of the president of Acadia University, John Pryor, and was there appointed professor of classics. He served there until 1865 when he accepted a new appointment at Dalhousie as professor of English and rhetoric. He continued to write and teach at Dalhousie until his early death at the age of 46.[1]


James De Mille's residence at 72 South Park Street, Halifax
De Mille's headstone in Camp Hill Cemetery

His most popular work with contemporaries, and the work for which he is most known today, is A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder, which was serialized posthumously in Harper's Weekly, and published in book form by Harper and Brothers of New York City, during 1888.

Other works included the 1867 historical novel Helena's Household: A Tale of Rome in the First Century[2] (the 1890 edition was subtitled : An Ideal of Roman Life in the Time of Paul and Nero), and the following:

  • The American Baron (1872)
  • Among the Brigands (1875)
  • The Babes in the Wood, a Tragic Comedy: A Story of the Italian Revolution of 1848 (1875)
  • Behind the Veil: A Poem (1893)
  • A Book for Boys: Containing Stories of Boys Who Won Their Way to Honor or Wealth by Obedience, Industry, and Piety (1860?)
  • A Castle in Spain (1869)
  • A Comedy of Terrors (1872)
  • Cord and Creese (1869)
  • The Cryptogram (1871)
  • The Dodge Club; or Italy in 1859 (1873)
  • John Wheeler's Two Uncles, or Launching Into Life: A Story for Boys (1877)
  • The Lady of the Ice (1870)
  • The Lily and the Cross: A Novel/Tale of Acadia (1874)
  • The Living Link (1874)
  • The Martyr of the Catacombs: A Tale of Ancient Rome (1865)
  • Nest of Pyrates: Pirate Verse from the Seven Seas (????)
  • Old Garth: A Story of Sicily (1883)
  • An Open Question (1873)
  • The Seven Hills (1873)
  • Sweet Maiden of Passamaquoddy (????)
  • The Treasure of the Seas (1873)
  • A Week at Forestdale, Being a Summer Idyl (1868)
  • The Winged Lion; or Stories of Venice (1877)

The B.O.W.C. Club Series:

  • The Brethren of the White Cross [aka The "B.O.W.C."]: A Book for Boys (1869)
  • The Boys of Grand Pre School (1870)
  • Lost in the Fog (1870)
  • Fire in the Woods (1871)
  • Picked Up Adrift (1872)


  • The Early English Church (1877)
  • The Elements of Rhetoric (1878)

Many of DeMille's books were originally published in serial form in such periodicals as Harper's Weekly.

Further readingEdit

  • Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
  • Douglas Edward MacLeod, A Critical Biography of James DeMille. MA Thesis, Dalhousie University. 1968
  • Leonard Vandervaart, Ideas in the Fiction of Victorian Canada: James de Mille, Agnes Maule Machar and Robert Barr. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1990.


  1. ^ A. J. Crockett, "Concerning James De Mille" in More Studies in Nova Scotian History. George Patterson, ed. Halifax: Imperial Publishing Co., 1941. 120-48.
  2. ^ "19th Century Saint John Authors"

External linksEdit