55 Facts About Horatio Alger


Horatio Alger's writings were characterized by the "rags-to-riches" narrative, which had a formative effect on the United States during the Gilded Age.


Horatio Alger's publisher suggested he tour the Western United States for fresh material to incorporate into his fiction.


Horatio Alger had many connections with the New England Puritan aristocracy of the early 19th century.


Horatio Alger was the descendant of Pilgrim Fathers Robert Cushman, Thomas Cushman, and William Bassett.


Horatio Alger was the descendant of Sylvanus Lazell, a Minuteman and brigadier general in the War of 1812, and Edmund Lazell, a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1788.


Horatio Alger's siblings Olive Augusta and James were born in 1833 and 1836, respectively.


Horatio Alger was a precocious boy afflicted with myopia and asthma, but Horatio Alger Sr.


Horatio Alger began attending Chelsea Grammar School in 1842, but by December 1844 his father's financial troubles had worsened considerably and, in search of a better salary, he moved the family to Marlborough, Massachusetts, an agricultural town 25 miles west of Boston, where he was installed as pastor of the Second Congregational Society in January 1845 with a salary sufficient to meet his needs.


Horatio Alger attended Gates Academy, a local preparatory school, and completed his studies at age 15.


Horatio Alger published his earliest literary works in local newspapers.


In July 1848, Horatio Alger passed the Harvard entrance examinations and was admitted to the class of 1852.


Horatio Alger thrived in the highly disciplined and regimented Harvard environment, winning scholastic and other prestigious awards.


Horatio Alger began reading Walter Scott, James Fenimore Cooper, Herman Melville, and other modern writers of fiction and cultivated a lifelong love for Longfellow, whose verse he sometimes employed as a model for his own.


Horatio Alger was chosen Class Odist and graduated with Phi Beta Kappa Society honors in 1852, eighth in a class of 88.


Horatio Alger had no job prospects following graduation and returned home.


Horatio Alger continued to write, submitting his work to religious and literary magazines, with varying success.


Horatio Alger briefly attended Harvard Divinity School in 1853, possibly to be reunited with a romantic interest, but left in November 1853 to take a job as an assistant editor at the Boston Daily Advertiser.


Horatio Alger loathed editing and quit in 1854 to teach at The Grange, a boys' boarding school in Rhode Island.


Horatio Alger attended Harvard Divinity School from 1857 to 1860, and upon graduation, toured Europe.


Horatio Alger was elected an officer in the New England Historic Genealogical Society in 1863.


Horatio Alger initially wrote for adult magazines, including Harper's Magazine and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, but a friendship with William Taylor Adams, a boys' author, led him to write for the young.


On December 8,1864, Horatio Alger was enlisted as a pastor with the First Unitarian Church and Society of Brewster, Massachusetts.


Horatio Alger submitted stories to The Student and Schoolmate, a boys' monthly magazine of moral writings, edited by William Taylor Adams and published in Boston by Joseph H Allen.


Horatio Alger denied nothing, admitted he had been imprudent, considered his association with the church dissolved, and left town.


Horatio Alger sent Unitarian officials in Boston a letter of remorse, and his father assured them his son would never seek another post in the church.


In 1866, Horatio Alger relocated to New York City where he studied the condition of the street boys, and found in them an abundance of interesting material for stories.


Horatio Alger abandoned forever any thought of a career in the church, and focused instead on his writing.


Horatio Alger wrote "Friar Anselmo" at this time, a poem that tells of a sinning cleric's atonement through good deeds.


Horatio Alger became interested in the welfare of the thousands of vagrant children who flooded New York City following the Civil War.


Horatio Alger published two poorly received adult novels, Helen Ford and Timothy Crump's Ward.


Horatio Alger fared better with stories for boys published in Student and Schoolmate and a third boys' book, Charlie Codman's Cruise.


In spite of the series' success, Horatio Alger was on financially uncertain ground and tutored the five sons of the international banker Joseph Seligman.


Horatio Alger wrote serials for Young Israel and lived in the Seligman home until 1876.


In 1875 Horatio Alger produced the serial Shifting for Himself and Sam's Chance, a sequel to The Young Outlaw.


Horatio Alger enjoyed a reunion with his brother James in San Francisco and returned to New York late in 1877 on a schooner that sailed around Cape Horn.


Horatio Alger wrote a few lackluster books in the following years, rehashing his established themes, but this time the tales were played before a Western background rather than an urban one.


In New York, Horatio Alger continued to tutor the town's aristocratic youth and to rehabilitate boys from the streets.


In 1877, Horatio Alger's fiction became a target of librarians concerned about sensational juvenile fiction.


In 1881, Horatio Alger informally adopted Charlie Davis, a street boy, and another, John Downie, in 1883; they lived in Horatio Alger's apartment.


Horatio Alger was commissioned to write a biography of Abraham Lincoln, but again it was Horatio Alger the boys' novelist opting for thrills rather than facts.


Horatio Alger continued to produce stories of honest boys outwitting evil, greedy squires and malicious youths.


Horatio Alger's work appeared in hardcover and paperback, and decades-old poems were published in anthologies.


Horatio Alger led a busy life with street boys, Harvard classmates, and the social elite.


Horatio Alger attended the theater and Harvard reunions, read literary magazines, and wrote a poem at Longfellow's death in 1882.


Horatio Alger suffered from bronchitis and asthma for two years.


Horatio Alger died on July 18,1899, at the home of his sister in Natick, Massachusetts.


Horatio Alger is buried in the family lot at Glenwood Cemetery, South Natick, Massachusetts.


Horatio Alger once estimated that he earned only $100,000 between 1866 and 1896; at his death he had little money, leaving only small sums to family and friends.


Horatio Alger's works received favorable comments and experienced a resurgence following his death.


The first Alger biography was a heavily fictionalized account published in 1928 by Herbert R Mayes, who later admitted the work was a fraud.


Horatio Alger occasionally cited the young Abe Lincoln as a representative of this theme for his readers.


All of Horatio Alger's novels have similar plots: a boy struggles to escape poverty through hard work and clean living.


Geck notes that perception of the "pluck" characteristic of an Horatio Alger hero has changed over the decades.


Geck observes that Horatio Alger's themes have been transformed in modern America from their original meanings into a male Cinderella myth and are an Americanization of the traditional Jack tales.


Alan Trachtenberg, in his introduction to the Signet Classic edition of Ragged Dick, points out that Horatio Alger had tremendous sympathy for boys and discovered a calling for himself in the composition of boys' books.