Horatio Alger

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Streaming Media

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Probably no author of children’s books during the last 30 years of the nineteenth century was more popular than Horatio Alger, Jr. (1832–1899). A writer of so-called “rags to riches” stories, his name is fairly recognizable today as a synonym for success. Many magazine and newspaper writers, for example, observe in profiles of persons who were poor early on in their lives, but who worked hard and achieved prosperity, that “their careers read like those of Horatio Alger’s heroes.”


Speaker: Jack Bales’s career at the University of Mary Washington spanned more than 40 years, and he retired in 2020 as Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus. He is a longtime member of the Horatio Alger Society and is the past editor of its bimonthly publication, Newsboy. He co-authored, with Gary Scharnhorst, Horatio Alger, Jr.: An Annotated Bibliography of Comment and Criticism (1981), and he assisted Scharnhorst with The Lost Life of Horatio Alger, Jr. (1985). Bales has published many works on the Chicago Cubs, including Before They Were the Cubs: The Early Years of Chicago’s First Professional Baseball Team (2019).

Publisher Statement

This lecture is part of the Great Lives: William B. Crawley Lecture Series held at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Additionally, this lecture was made possible through the support of John and Linda Coker.

All of the 2021 Great Lives Lectures can be found on their dedicated website at: https://www.umw.edu/greatlives/.

Because of restrictions on public gatherings due to COVID-19, the entire series of 18 lectures was pre-recorded and delivered electronically through Zoom (with closed captioning).

Copyright: University of Mary Washington (UMW)