Eric, or, Little by Little

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Eric, or Little by Little
Eric little by little cover.jpg
Cover of the 1891 edition
Author Frederic W. Farrar
Illustrator Gordon Browne
Country England
Language English
Genre Novel
Publisher Adam & Charles Black, Edinburgh and London.
Publication date
1858
Media type Print (Hardback)
ISBN NA

Eric, or, Little by Little is a book by Frederic W. Farrar, first edition 1858. It was published by Adam & Charles Black, Edinburgh and London. The book deals with the descent into moral turpitude of a boy at a boarding school.

The author's preface reads:

The story of ‘Eric’ was written with but one single object—the vivid inculcation of inward purity and moral purpose, by the history of a boy who, in spite of the inherent nobility of his disposition, falls into all folly and wickedness, until he has learnt to seek help from above. I am deeply thankful to know—from testimony public and private, anonymous and acknowledged—that this object has, by God’s blessing, been fulfilled.[1]

Eric is a son of a British worker and his wife stationed in India. As was common at the time of the British Raj, Eric is sent to Britain to be educated at a boarding school - in this case Roslyn School, where he encounters the good and bad aspects of the traditional boys' school.

Title page from 1891 edition of the book.

He slowly gets beaten down by being punished erroneously for wrongdoings, getting bullied and such things as drinking, smoking and cheating. The end is tragic for Eric, as he loses everything.

Along with Talbot Baines Reed's The Fifth Form at St. Dominic’s and Thomas Hughes' Tom Brown's Schooldays, this book was one of three most popular boys' books in mid-Victorian Britain. The school is a thinly disguised cross between Farrar's own school King William's College in the Isle of Man, and Marlborough College, at which he was the master.

The book is credited with helping to increase the popularity of the first name "Eric" in English-speaking countries — although not with Eric Arthur Blair (the writer and journalist George Orwell) who disliked his given name because of its association with Farrar's book.

In later years, it fell out of favour, in part because of its religious earnestness. For example, in Rudyard Kipling's Stalky & Co., published late in 1899, the protagonist Beetle and his friends frequently made fun of "Eric", e.g.

Besides, we ain't goin' to have any beastly Erickin.[2]

Frontispiece from the 1891 edition, with illustrations by Gordon Browne (1858-1932).

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Carpenter, Humphrey and Mari Prichard. Oxford Companion to Children's Literature. Oxford University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-19-860228-6
  • Zipes, Jack (ed) et al. The Norton Anthology of Children's Literature: The Traditions in English. W. W. Norton, 2005. ISBN 0-393-32776-0
  • Zipes, Jack (ed.). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. Volumes 1-4. Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-19-514656-5
  • Watson, Victor, The Cambridge Guide to Children's Books in English. Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-521-55064-5
  • Demmers, Patricia (ed). From Instruction to Delight: An Anthology of Children's Literature to 1850, Oxford University Press, 2003. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-541889-1.
  • St. John, Judith. The Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books, 1566-1910, A Catalogue, Toronto Public Library.

External links[edit]