Mary Anne Madden was born in County Cavan, Ireland. She published about 60 novels and numerous short stories aimed primarily at Irish immigrants in the United States and Canada. After her father's death, she emigrated to Canada and in 1846 married James Sadlier, a publisher and bookbinder with whom she had six children. In the 1860s, the family moved to New York City, where Mary Anne Sadlier hosted a salon frequented by literary and political figures of the day, particularly Irish Catholic writers. Her work often addressed themes of anti-Catholicism, the Irish Famine, emigration, and domestic work.