Horatio Alger, Jr.
|Horatio Alger, Jr.|
January 13, 1832|
Chelsea, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||July 18, 1899
Natick, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Pen name||Carl Cantab
Caroline F. Preston
Arthur Lee Putnam
|Alma mater||Harvard College, 1852|
|Notable work(s)||Ragged Dick (1868)|
Horatio Alger, Jr. (January 13, 1832 – July 18, 1899) was a prolific 19th-century American author, best known for his many juvenile novels about impoverished boys and their rise from humble backgrounds to lives of middle-class security and comfort through hard work, determination, courage, and honesty. His writings were characterized by the "rags-to-riches" narrative, which had a formative effect on America during the Gilded Age. Alger's name is often invoked incorrectly as though he himself rose from rags to riches, but that arc applied to his characters, not to the author. Essentially, all of Alger's novels share the same theme: a young boy struggles through hard work to escape poverty. Critics, however, are quick to point out that it is not the hard work itself that rescues the boy from his fate, but rather some extraordinary act of bravery or honesty, which brings him into contact with a wealthy elder gentleman, who takes the boy in as a ward. The boy might return a large sum of money that was lost or rescue someone from an overturned carriage, bringing the boy—and his plight—to the attention of some wealthy individual. It has been suggested that this reflects Alger's own patronizing attitude to the boys he tried to help.
Alger secured his literary niche in 1868 with the publication of his fourth book Ragged Dick, the story of a poor bootblack's rise to middle-class respectability, which was a huge success. His many books that followed were essentially variations on Ragged Dick and featured a cast of stock characters: the valiant hard-working, honest youth (who knew more Latin than the villain), the noble, mysterious stranger (whom the poor boy rescued and by whom he got rewarded), the snobbish youth (cousin), and the evil squire (uncle).
In the 1870s, Alger took a trip to California to gather material for future books, but the trip had little influence on his writing. In the last decades of the 19th century, boys' tastes changed, and Alger's moral tone coarsened accordingly. The Puritan ethic had loosened its grip on America, and violence, murder, and other sensational themes entered Alger's works. Public librarians questioned whether his books should be made available to the young. By the time he died in 1899, he had published around a hundred volumes.
Childhood: 1832–1847 
Horatio Alger, Jr. was born in the New England coastal town of Chelsea, Massachusetts, on January 13, 1832, to Horatio Alger, a Unitarian minister, and his wife Olive Augusta Fenno. He was the descendant of Plymouth Pilgrims Robert Cushman, Thomas Cushman, William Bassett, and 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's siblings Olive Augusta and James were born in 1833 and 1836, and an invalid sister Annie and a brother Francis in 1840 and 1842. Alger was a precocious boy afflicted with nearsightedness and bronchial asthma, but Alger, Sr. decided early that his eldest son would one day enter the ministry, and, to that end, he tutored the boy in classical studies and allowed him to observe the responsibilities of ministering to parishioners. Alger began attending the Chelsea Grammar School in 1842, but by December 1844 his father's financial troubles had increased considerably and, in search of a better salary, he moved his family to Marlborough, Massachusetts, an agricultural town 25 miles west of Boston. He was installed as pastor of the Second Congregational Society in January 1845 with a salary sufficient to meet his needs. Horatio attended Gates Academy, a local preparatory school, and completed his studies at age fifteen. He published his earliest literary work in local newspapers.
Harvard and early works: 1848–1864 
In July 1848 Alger passed the Harvard entrance examinations, and was admitted to the class of 1852. The fourteen-member full-time Harvard faculty included Louis Agassiz and Asa Gray (sciences), Cornelius Conway Felton (classics), James Walker (religion and philosophy), and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (belles lettres). Edward Everett served as president. Alger's classmate Joseph Choate described Harvard at this time as "provincial and local because its scope and outlook hardly extended beyond the boundaries of New England; besides which it was very denominational, being held exclusively in the hands of Unitarians".
Alger flowered in the highly disciplined and regimented Harvard environment, winning scholastic prizes and prestigious awards. His genteel poverty and less-than-aristocratic heritage however barred him from membership in the Hasty Pudding and Porcellian clubs. In 1849 he became a professional writer when he sold two essays and a poem to the Pictorial National Library, a Boston magazine. He began reading Sir 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. He was chosen Class Odist, and graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors in 1852, eighth in a class of 88.
Alger had no job prospects following graduation and returned home. He continued to write, submitting his work to religious and literary magazines with varying success. He 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 with the Boston Daily Advertiser. He loathed editing and quit in 1854 to teach at The Grange, a boys' boarding school in Rhode Island. When The Grange suspended operations in 1856, Alger found employment managing the 1856 summer session at Deerfield Academy. His poems at this time expressed a sexual ambivalence, and were sometimes written in a woman's voice.
His first book, a collection of short pieces called Bertha's Christmas Vision: An Autumn Sheaf, was published in 1856, and his second, a lengthy satirical poem called Nothing to Do: A Tilt at our Best Society, was published in 1857. He attended the Harvard Divinity School from 1857 to 1860, and upon graduation, he did a tour of Europe. In the spring of 1861, he returned to a nation in the throes of the Civil War. Drafted but exempted from military service in July 1863, he wrote in support of the Union cause and hobnobbed with New England intellectuals. He was elected an officer in the New England Genealogical Society in 1863.
His first novel Marie Bertrand: The Felon's Daughter was serialized in the New York Weekly in 1864, and his first boys' book Frank's Campaign was published by A. K. Loring in Boston the same year. Alger initially wrote for adult magazines, including Harper's Monthly and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper; a friendship with William Taylor Adams, a boys' author, led him to write for the young.
Ministry: 1864–1866 
On December 8, 1864 Alger was installed as pastor with the First Unitarian Church and Society of Brewster, Massachusetts. Between ministerial duties, he organized games and amusements for the boys in the parish, railed against smoking and drinking, and organized and served as president of the local chapter of the Cadets for Temperance. He submitted stories to Student and Schoolmate, a boys' monthly magazine of moral writings edited by William Taylor Adams (Oliver Optic) and published in Boston by Joseph H. Allen. In September 1865 his second boys' book Paul Prescott's Charge was published to favorable reviews.
Early in 1866, a church committee was formed to investigate sexual misconduct reports about Alger. He denied nothing, admitted he had been imprudent, considered his association with the church dissolved, and left town. Church officials reported to the hierarchy in Boston that Alger had been charged with "the crime of...unnatural familiarity with boys". 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. Officials were satisfied and decided no further action would be taken.
New York City: 1866–1896 
Alger relocated to New York City, abandoned forever any thought of a career in the church, and focused instead on his writing. He wrote "Friar Anselmo" at this time, a poem that tells of a sinning cleric's atonement through good deeds. He became interested in the welfare of the thousands of vagrant children who flooded New York City following the Civil War. He attended a children's church service at Five Points which led to "John Maynard", a ballad about an actual shipwreck on Lake Erie that brought Alger not only the respect of the literati but a letter from Longfellow. He published two poorly received adult novels, Helen Ford and Timothy Crump's Ward. He fared better with stories for boys published in Student and Schoolmate and a third boys' book Charlie Codman's Cruise.
In January 1867 the first of twelve installments of Ragged Dick appeared in Student and Schoolmate. The story about a poor bootblack's rise to middle class respectability was a huge success. It was expanded, and published as a novel in 1868. It proved to be his bestseller. After Ragged Dick he wrote almost entirely for boys, and signed a contract with publisher Loring for a Ragged Dick Series.
In spite of the series' success, Alger was on financially uncertain ground and tutored the five sons of international banker Joseph Seligman. He wrote serials for Young Israel, and lived in the Seligman home until 1876. In 1875 Alger produced the serial Shifting for Himself and Sam's Chance, a sequel to The Young Outlaw. It was evident in these that Alger had grown stale. Profits suffered, and he headed West for new material at Loring's behest, arriving in California in February 1877. He enjoyed a reunion with his brother James in San Francisco and returned to New York late in 1877 via a schooner around Cape Horn. He wrote a few lackluster books in the following years that rehashed the formulaic Alger of old but this time the tales were played before a Western backcloth rather than an urban one.
In New York, Alger continued to tutor the town's aristocratic youth and to rehabilitate its street boys. He was writing both urban and Western-themed tales. In 1879, for example, he published The District Messenger Boy and The Young Miner. In 1877, Alger's fiction became a target of librarians concerned about sensational juvenile fiction. An effort was made to remove Alger's works from public collections, but the debate was only partially successful, defeated by the renewed interest in Alger's work after his death.
In 1881, Alger informally adopted Charlie Davis, a street boy, and another, John Downie, in 1883; they lived in Alger's apartment. In 1881, he wrote President James A. Garfield's biography, but filled the work with contrived conversations and boyish excitements rather than facts. The book sold well. Alger was commissioned to give Abraham Lincoln a biographical treatment but again it was Alger the boys' novelist opting for thrills rather than facts.
In 1882, Alger's father died. Alger continued to produce stories of honest boys outwitting evil, greedy squires, and malicious youths. His work appeared in hardcover and paperback, and decades-old poems were published in anthologies. He led a busy life with the street boys, his Harvard classmates, and the social elite. In Massachusetts, he was regarded with the same reverence as Harriet Beecher Stowe. He tutored with never a whisper of scandal.
Last years: 1896–1899 
In the last two decades of the 19th century, the quality of Alger's books deteriorated and his boys' works became nothing more than reruns of the plots and themes of his past. The times had changed, boys expected more, and a streak of violence entered Alger's work. In The Young Bank Messenger, for example, a woman is throttled and threatened with death—an episode that would never have occurred in his earlier work.
He attended the theater and Harvard reunions, read the literary magazines, and wrote a poem at Longfellow's death in 1892. His last novel for adults, The Disagreeable Woman, was published under the pseudonym Julian Starr. He took pleasure in the successes of the boys he had informally adopted over the years, retained his interest in reform, accepted speaking engagements, and read portions of Ragged Dick to boys' assemblies.
His popularity—and income—dwindled in the 1890s. In 1896, he had (what he called) a "nervous breakdown"; he relocated permanently to his sister's home in South Natick, Massachusetts. After suffering from bronchitis and asthma for two years, he died on July 18, 1899. His death was barely noticed.
Before his death, Alger asked Edward Stratemeyer to complete his unfinished works. In 1901, Young Captain Jack was completed by Stratemeyer and promoted as Alger's last work. 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. His literary work was bequeathed to his niece, to two boys he had casually adopted, and to his sister Olive Augusta, who destroyed his manuscripts and his letters at his wish.
Alger's works received favorable comments and experienced a resurgence following his death; up until the advent of the Jazz Age in the 1920s, he sold about seventeen to twenty million volumes. In 1926, however, reader interest plummeted and his major publisher ceased printing the books altogether. Surveys in 1932 and 1947 revealed very few children had read or even heard of Alger. The first Alger biography was a heavily fictionalized account published in 1928 by Herbert R. Mayes, who later admitted the work was a fraud.
Since 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans has bestowed an annual award on "outstanding individuals in our society who have succeeded in the face of adversity" and scholarships "to encourage young people to pursue their dreams with determination and perseverance".
Style and themes 
Alger scholar Gary Scharnhorst describes Alger's style as "anachronistic", "often laughable", "distinctive", and "distinguished by the quality of its literary allusions". Ranging from the Bible and Shakespeare (half of Alger's books contain Shakespearean references) to John Milton and Cicero, the allusions he employed were a testament to his erudition. Scharnhorst credits these allusions for distinguishing Alger's novels from pulp fiction.
Scharnhorst describes six major themes in Alger's boys' books. The first, the Rise to Respectability, he observes, is evident in both his early and late books, notably in Ragged Dick, whose young impoverished hero declares: "I mean to turn over a new leaf, and try to grow up 'spectable." His virtuous life wins him—not riches—but, more realistically, a comfortable clerical position and salary. The second major theme explores Character Strengthened Through Adversity. In Strong and Steady and Shifting for Himself, for example, the affluent heroes are reduced to poverty and forced to meet the demands of their new circumstances. Alger occasionally cited the young Abe Lincoln as a representative of this theme for his readers. The third theme is Beauty versus Money, which became central to Alger's adult fiction. Characters fall in love and marry based on the their character, talents, or intellect rather than the size of their bank accounts. In The Train Boy, for example, a wealthy heiress chooses to marry a talented but struggling artist and in The Erie Train Boy a poor woman wins her true love despite the machinations of a rich, depraved suitor.
All of Alger's novels rework the same plot: a young boy struggles to escape poverty through hard work and clean living. However, it is not always the hard work and clean living that rescue the boy from his situation, but rather a wealthy older gentleman, who admires the boy as a result of some extraordinary act of bravery or honesty that the boy has performed. For example, the boy might rescue a child from an overturned carriage or find and return the man's stolen watch. Often the older man takes the boy into his home as a ward or companion and helps him find a better job (sometimes replacing a less honest or industrious boy).
According to Scharnhorst, Alger's father was "an impoverished man" who defaulted on his debts in 1844. His properties around Chelsea were seized and assigned to a local squire who held the mortgages. Scharnhorst speculates this episode in Alger's childhood accounts for the recurrent theme in his boys' books of heroes being threatened with eviction or foreclosure, and may account for Alger's "consistent espousal of environmental reform proposals". Scharnhorst writes "Financially insecure throughout his life, the younger Alger may have been active in reform organizations such as those for temperance and children's aid as a means of resolving his status-anxiety and establish his genteel credentials for leadership."
Alger scholar Hoyt notes that Alger's morality "coarsened" around 1880, possibly influenced by the Western tales he was writing, because "the most dreadful things were now almost casually proposed and explored". Although he continued to write for boys, Alger explored subjects like violence and "openness in the relations between the sexes and generations"; Hoyt attributes this shift to the decline of Puritan ethics in America.
Scholar John Geck notes that Alger relied on "formulas for experience rather than shrewd analysis of human behavior", and that these formulas were "culturally centered" and "strongly didactic". Although the frontier society was a thing of the past during Alger's career, Geck contends that "the idea of the frontier, even in urban slums, provides a kind of fairy tale orientation in which a Jack mentality can be both celebrated and critiqued". He claims that Alger's intended audience were youths whose "motivations for action are effectively shaped by the lessons they learn".
Geck notes that perception of the "pluck" characteristic of an Alger hero has changed over the decades. During the Jazz Age and the Great Depression, "the Horatio Alger plot was viewed from the perspective of the Progressive movement as a staunch defense of laissez-faire capitalism, yet at the same time criticizing the cutthroat business techniques and offering hope to a suffering young generation during the Great Depression". By the Atomic Age, however "Alger's hero was no longer a poor boy who, through determination and providence rose to middle-class respectability. He was instead the crafty street urchin who through quick wits and luck rose from impoverishment to riches".
Geck observes that 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. Each story has its clever hero, its "fairy godmother", and obstacles and hindrances to the hero's rise. "However", he writes, "[T]he true Americanization of this fairy tale occurs in its subversion of this claiming of nobility; rather, the Alger hero achieves the American Dream in its nascent form, he gains a position of middle-class respectability that promises to lead wherever his motivation may take him". The reader may speculate what Cinderella achieved as Queen and what an Alger hero attained once his middle class status was stabilized and "[i]t is this commonality that fixes Horatio Alger firmly in the ranks of modern adaptors of the Cinderella myth".
Personal Life 
Scharnhorst writes that Alger "exercised a certain discretion in discussing his probable homosexuality" and was known to have mentioned his sexuality only once after the Brewster incident. In 1870 the elder Henry James wrote that Alger "talks freely about his own late insanity—which he in fact appears to enjoy as a subject of conversation". Although Alger was willing to speak to James, his sexuality was a closely guarded secret. According to Scharnhorst, Alger made veiled references to homosexuality in his boys' books and these references, Scharnhorst speculates, indicate Alger was "insecure with his sexual orientation". Alger wrote, for example, that it was difficult to distinguish whether Tattered Tom was a boy or a girl and in other instances he introduces foppish, effeminate, lisping "stereotypical homosexuals" who are treated with scorn and pity by others. In Silas Snobden's Office Boy, a kidnapped boy disguised as a girl is threatened with the "insane asylum" if he should reveal his actual sex. Scharnhorst believes Alger's desire to atone for his "secret sin" may have "spurred him to identify his own charitable acts of writing didactic books for boys with the acts of the charitable patrons in his books who wish to atone for a secret sin in their past by aiding the hero". Scharnhorst points out that the patron in Try and Trust, for example, conceals a "sad secret" from which he is redeemed only after saving the hero's life.
Alan Trachtenberg of Yale University points out in his introduction to the Signet Classic edition of Ragged Dick (1990) that Alger had tremendous sympathy for boys and discovered a calling for himself in the composition of boys' books. "He learned to consult the boy in himself", Trachtenberg writes, "[T]o transmute and recast himself—his genteel culture, his liberal patrician sympathy for underdogs, his shaky economic status as an author, and not least, his dangerous erotic attraction to boys—into his juvenile fiction". He observes that it is impossible to know whether Alger lived the life of a secret homosexual, "[b]ut there are hints that the male companionship he describes as a refuge from the streets—the cozy domestic arrangements between Dick and Fosdick, for example—may also be an erotic relationship". Trachtenberg observes that nothing prurient occurs in Ragged Dick but believes the few instances in Alger's work of two boys touching or a man and a boy touching "might arouse erotic wishes in readers prepared to entertain such fantasies". Such images, Trachtenberg believes, may imply "a positive view of homoeroticism as an alternative way of life, of living by sympathy rather than aggression". Trachtenberg concludes "[I]n Ragged Dick we see Alger plotting domestic romance, complete with a surrogate marriage of two homeless boys, as the setting for his formulaic metamorphosis of an outcast street boy into a self-respecting citizen". These two critiques are not necessarily evidence of Alger's intentions in his works or of his personal life.
Alger published about 100 poems and odes, most written by 1875. In 1853–54, he published short stories with Gleason's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion and The Flag of Our Nation. Other Gleason publications printed about 100 stories before he began writing for Student and Schoolmate.
Alger had many publishers over the decades. His first was A. K. Loring of Boston, and when Loring declared bankruptcy in 1881, Porter & Coates became his second and Henry T. Coates and Company his third. Other publishers include G. W. Carleton, J. S. Oglivie, John Anderson who published the biographies, A. L. Burt, Frank Munsey, Penn Publishing, and Street & Smith. M. A. Donahue and the New York Book Company published inexpensive paperback reprints by the thousands. It is believed there were at least 60 publishers releasing Alger.
|"Voices of the Past"||June 1849||Poem.||Published in the Boston monthly magazine Pictorial National Library.|
|"A Welcome to May"||1853||Poem.|
|Bertha's Christmas Vision: An Autumn Sheaf||1856||Poems and Short Stories.||Published by Brown, Bazin and Company of Boston.||Alger's first book.|
|Nothing to Do: A Tilt at Our Best Society||1857||Poem.||Published anonymously by James French & Company.||Satire about the idle upper classes.|
|Nothing To Eat||1857|
|He Has Gone, and I Have Sent Him!||1862||Poem.||Published in Harper's Weekly Nov. 1862||Civil War poem.|
|Marie Bertrand||1864||Adult Novel.||Serialized by Street & Smith in the New York Weekly.||A kidnapped young woman is reunited with her mother, a French countess.|
|Frank's Campaign; or, What Boys Can Do on the Farm for the Camp||1864||Juvenile Novel.||Published by A. K. Loring.||First volume of the Campaign Series. Frank Frost manages the family farm when his father goes to war. Alger's first boys' book. Online at Gutenberg|
|Paul Prescott's Charge: A Story for Boys||1865||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Second volume of the Campaign Series. A youth pays off his deceased father's debts. Online at Gutenberg|
|Charlie Codman's Cruise: A Story for Boys||1866||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Third and final volume of the Campaign Series. A youth is shanghaied but restored to his home after adventures at sea.|
|Helen Ford||1866||Adult Novel.||Published by Loring.||The tribulations of a young woman in NYC before she falls in love with a promising artist.|
|Timothy Crump's Ward; or, The New Years Loan, And What Became of It||1866||Adult Novel.||Published anonymously by Loring.||Later reworked as Sam's Ward for the juvenile market.|
|John Maynard: A Ballad of Lake Erie||1868||Poem.||Published in Student and Schoolmate in January 1868 and then in various publications.||A helmsman perishes at the wheel while the ship burns. Based on an actual incident.|
|Ragged Dick; or, Street Life in New York with the Bootblacks||1868||Juvenile Novel.||First serialized in twelve installments in Student and Schoolmate in 1867. Published by Loring in book format in 1868.||First volume of the Ragged Dick Series. A New York City bootblack rises to middle class respectability through hard work, honesty, and determination. Alger's all-time bestseller. Online at Gutenberg|
|Fame and Fortune; or, The Progress of Richard Hunter||1868||Juvenile Novel.||First serialized in twelve installments in Student and Schoolmate. Novelization published by Loring.||Second volume of the Ragged Dick Series. Continues the story of Ragged Dick and his experiences after leaving bootblacking for an office job. Online at Gutenberg.|
|Struggling Upward; or, Luke Larkin's Luck||1868||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Small town boy helps solve bank robbery. Online at Gutenberg|
|Luck and Pluck; or, John Oakley's Inheritance||1869||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||First volume in the Luck and Pluck Series.|
|Mark the Match Boy; or, Richard Hunter's Ward||1869||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Third volume in the Ragged Dick Series.|
|Rough and Ready; or, Life Among the New York Newsboys||1869||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Fourth volume in the Ragged Dick Series.|
|Ralph Raymond's Heir; or, The Merchant's Crime||1869||Short Story.||Published under the pseudonym "Arthur Hamilton" for Gleason's Literary Companion.|
|Ben The Luggage Boy; or, Among the Wharves||1870||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Fifth volume in the Ragged Dick Series. Boy runs away from home and struggles as a luggage carrier in New York. Online at Gutenberg.|
|Rufus and Rose; or, The Fortunes of Rough and Ready||1870||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Sixth and final volume in the Ragged Dick Series. Sequel to Rough and Ready. Rufus and Rose try to avoid their evil stepfather. Online at Gutenberg|
|Sink or Swim; or, Harry Raymond's Resolve||1870||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Second volume in the Luck and Pluck Series.|
|Paul the Peddler; or the Fortunes of a Young Street Merchant||1871||Juvenile Novel.||Serialized in Student and Schoolmate. Novelization published by Loring.||Second volume in the Tattered Tom Series. Young entrepreneur goes from selling candy to owning a necktie stand. Online at Gutenberg|
|Strong and Steady; or, Paddle Your Own Canoe||1871||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Third volume in the Luck and Pluck Series.|
|Tattered Tom; or, The Story of a Street Arab||1871||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||First volume in the Tattered Tom Series. Jane Lindsay is a child streetsweeper.|
|"Friar Anselmo"||1872||Poem.||A sinning cleric finds redemption in ministering to the sick.|
|Phil the Fiddler; or, The Story of a Young Street Musician||1872||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Third volume in the Tattered Tom Series. Phil is an Italian boy enslaved by a padrone.|
|Slow and Sure; The Story of Paul Hoffman the Young Street-Merchant||1872||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Fourth volume in the Tattered Tom Series. Sequel to Paul the Peddler. Paul moves from his street stall to a retail store. Online at Gutenberg|
|Strive and Succeed; or, The Progress of Walter Conrad||1872||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Fourth volume in the Luck and Pluck Series. Online at University of Florida|
|Bound to Rise; or, Up the Ladder||1873||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Seventh volume in the Luck and Pluck Series.|
|Try and Trust; or, The Story of a Bound Boy||1873||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Fifth volume in the Luck and Pluck Series.|
|Brave and Bold; or, The Fortunes of Robert Rushton||1874||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||First in the Brave and Bold Series. A youth searches for his sea captain father.|
|Julius; or, The Street Boy Out West||1874||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Fifth volume in the Tattered Tom Series. A boy is resettled in the west through the agency of the Children's Aid Society.|
|Risen from the Ranks; or, Harry Walton's Success||1874||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Sixth volume in the Luck and Pluck Series.|
|Grand'ther Baldwin's Thanksgiving||1875||Poems.|
|Herbert Carter's Legacy; or, The Inventor's Son||1875||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Eighth and last volume in the Luck and Pluck Series. A boy and his mother thwart a Squire foreclosing on their cottage.|
|Jack's Ward; or, The Boy Guardian||1875||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Second volume in the Brave and Bold Series. Reworking of Timothy Crump's Ward.|
|Seeking His Fortune, And Other Dialogues||1875|
|The Young Outlaw; or, Adrift In The Streets||1875||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Sixth volume in the Tattered Tom Series. Sam Barlow resists reform.|
|Sam's Chance; and How He Improved It||1876||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Seventh volume in the Tattered Tom Series. Sequel to The Young Outlaw. Sam improves and finds an office job.|
|Shifting for Himself; or, Gilbert Greyson's Fortunes||1876||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Third volume in the Brave and Bold Series. A rich youth loses his fortune.|
|Life of Edwin Forrest||1877||Biography|
|The New Schoolma'am; or, A Summer in North Sparta||1877||Adult Novella.||Published anonymously.||A privileged young woman changes her name to teach school in New Hampshire.|
|Wait and Hope; or, Ben Bradford's Motto||1877||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Fourth and last volume in the Brave and Bold Series. A mill boy is laid off but remains optimistic about his future.|
|The Western Boy; or, The Road to Success||1878|
|The Young Adventurer; or, Tom's Trip Across the Plains||1878||Juvenile novel.||Published by Loring.||First volume of the Pacific series. Western setting. A boy head west to find gold and help pay the mortgage.|
|The Telegraph Boy||1879||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Eighth and last volume in the Tattered Tom Series. A penniless boy finds a job as a telegram messenger boy. Last of the fourteen social reform novels begun with Ragged Dick. Online at University of Florida|
|The Young Miner; or, Tom Nelson in California||1879||Juvenile Novel.||Published by Loring.||Western theme. Second volume of the Pacific series.|
|Tony the Hero||1880|
|The Young Explorer; or, Among the Sierras||1880||Juvenile novel.||Published by Loring.||Western theme. Third volume in the Pacific series|
|From Canal Boy to President; or, The Boyhood and Manhood of James A. Garfield||1881||Biography||Published by John R. Anderson|
|Ben's Nugget; or, A Boy's Search for Fortune||1882||Juvenile novel.||Published by Porter & Coates after Loring declares bankruptcy.||Western theme. Fourth and final volume in the Pacific series.|
|From Farm Boy to Senator: Being the History of the Boyhood and Manhood of Daniel Webster||1882||Biography||Published by J. S. Ogilvie and Company.||Originally published in serialization by Street & Smith, 1860s.|
|Abraham Lincoln: the Backwoods Boy; or, How A Young Rail-Splitter Became President||1883||Biography||Published by John R. Anderson.|
|The Train Boy||1883|
|The Young Circus Rider; or, The Mystery of Robert Rudd||1883|
|Dan, the Detective||1884|
|Do and Dare; or A Brave Boy's Fight for Fortune||1884|
|Hector's Inheritance; or, The Boys of Smith Institute||1885|
|Helping Himself; or, Grant Thornton's Ambition||1886||Online at UFL|
|Frank Fowler, the Cash Boy||1887|
|Number 91; or, The Adventures of a New York Telegraph Boy||1887|
|The Store Boy; or, The Fortunes of Ben Barclay||1887|
|Bob Burton; or, The Young Ranchman of the Missouri||1888||Published by The World Syndicate Publishing Co., Cleveland, O./NY, NY|
|The Errand Boy; or, How Phil Brent Won Success||1888|
|Tom Temple's Career||1888|
|Tom Thatcher's Fortune||1888|
|The Young Acrobat of the Great North American Circus||1888||Juvenile novel.||Circus theme suggested by P. T. Barnum. First serialized in The Golden Argosy.|
|Luke Walton; or, The Chicago Newsboy||1889|
|The Erie Train Boy||1890|
|Five Hundred Dollars; or, Jacob Marlowe's Secret||1890|
|Ned Newton; or, The Fortunes of a New York Bootblack||1890||Juvenile novel.||First serialized in The Golden Argosy.|
|A New York Boy||1890|
|The Odds Against Him; or, Carl Crawford's Experience||1890|
|Dean Dunham; or, The Waterford Mystery||1891|
|Digging for Gold. A Story of California||1892|
|The Young Boatman of Pine Point||1892|
|Cast Upon the Breakers||1893|
|Facing the World; or, The Haps and Mishaps of Harry Vane||1893|
|In a New World; or, Among the Gold-Fields of Australia||1893|
|Only an Irish Boy; Or, Andy Burke's Fortunes and Misfortunes||1894|
|Victor Vane, The Young Secretary||1894|
|The Disagreeable Woman; A Social Mystery||1895||Adult Novel||G. W. Carleton||Alger's last adult novel. Only one copy is known and held in the Library of Congress.|
|Frank Hunter's Peril||1896|
|The Young Salesman||1896|
|Frank and Fearless; or, The Fortunes of Jasper Kent||1897|
|Walter Sherwood's Probation||1897|
|A Boy's Fortune; or, The Strange Adventures of Ben Baker||1898|
|The Young Bank Messenger||1898||Online at Gutenberg.|
|Jed the Poorhouse Boy||1899||Juvenile novel.||A poorhouse boy is discovered to be an English baronet.|
|Mark Mason's Victory; or, The Trials and Triumphs of a Telegraph Boy||1899|
|Silas Snobden's Office Boy||1899||Doubleday||Originally serialized by Argosy under the pseudonym Arthur Lee Putnam.|
|A Debt of Honor. The Story of Gerald Lane's Success in the Far West||1900|
|Falling in With Fortune; or, The Experiences of a Young Secretary||1900|
|Out for Business; or, Robert Frost's Strange Career||1900|
|Ben Bruce. Scenes in the Life of a Bowery Newsboy||1901|
|Nelson the Newsboy; or, Afloat in New York||1901|
|Tom Brace: Who He Was and How He Fared||1901|
|Young Captain Jack; or, The Son of a Soldier||1901||Juvenile Novel||Originally serialized in Golden Hours. Promoted as Alger's last work. Completed by Edward Stratemeyer as Arthur M. Winfield.|
|Adrift in the City; or, Oliver Conrad's Plucky Fight||1902|
|Andy Grant's Pluck||1902|
|A Rolling Stone; or, The Adventures of a Wanderer||1902|
|Striving for Fortune; or, Walter Griffith's Trials and Successes||1902|
|Tom Turner's Legacy||1902|
|The World Before Him||1902|
|Bernard Brooks' Adventures. The Story of a Brave Boy's Trials||1903|
|Chester Rand; or, A New Path to Fortune||1903|
|Adrift in New York; or, Tom and Florence Braving the World||1904|
|Finding a Fortune||1904|
|Jerry the Backwoods Boy; or, The Parkhurst Treasure||1904|
|Lost at Sea; or, Robert Roscoe's Strange Cruise||1904|
|From Farm to Fortune; or Nat Nason's Strange Experience||1905|
|Making His Mark||1905|
|Mark Manning's Mission. The Story of a Shoe Factory Boy||1905|
|The Young Book Agent; or, Frank Hardy's Road to Success||1905|
|Joe the Hotel Boy, or Winning Out by Pluck||1906|
|Randy of the River; or, The Adventures of a Young Deckhand||1906|
|The Young Musician; or, Fighting His Way||1906|
|Ben Logan's Triumph; or, The Boys of Boxwood Academy||1908|
|Wait and Win. The Story of Jack Drummond's Pluck||1908|
|Robert Coverdale's Struggle; or, On the Wave of Success||1910|
|Joe's Luck; or Always Wide Awake||1913|
|The Cousin's Conspiracy|
|In Search of Treasure. The Story of Guy's Eventful Voyage|
- Hoyt 1974, pp. 7,9
- Scharnhorst 1980, p. 17-8
- Scharnhorst 1985, pp. 5–6
- Alger 2008, p. 277
- Scharnhorst 1985, pp. 10–
- Hoyt 1974, pp. 10–1
- Hoyt 1974, p. 14
- Scharnhorst 1985, pp. 11–3
- Scharnhorst 1985, p. 14
- Scharnhorst 1985, p. 15
- Scharnhorst 1985, p. 17
- Scharnhorst 1985, p. 21
- Hoyt 1974, p. 18
- Scharnhorst 1985, p. 18-23
- Scharnhorst 1985, pp. 26–7
- Scharnhorst 1985, pp. 27–8
- Scharnhorst 1985, p. 29
- Hoyt 1974, pp. 24,28
- Scharnhorst 1985, p. 33
- Hoyt 1974, pp. 27–8,30–3
- Scharnhorst 1980, p. "Chronology"
- Scharnhorst 1985, p. 54
- Scharnhorst 1980, p. 26
- Hoyt 1974, pp. 40–8
- Hoyt 1974, pp. 49–50
- Scharnhorst 1985, p. 64
- Scharnhorst 1980, p. 33
- Hoyt 1974, p. 4
- Scharnhorst 1985, p. 65
- Alger 2008, p. 278
- Scharnhorst 1980, p. 28
- Hoyt 1974, pp. 1–6,60–3
- Scharnhorst 1980, pp. 29–30
- Scharnhorst 1985, p. 3
- Scharnhorst 1980, pp. 30–34
- Scharnhorst 1980, p. 34
- Scharnhorst 1980, p. 48
- Scharnhorst 1980, p. 35
- Scharnhorst 1980, p. 35-6
- Alger 2008, p. 279
- Hoyt 1974, pp. 184–6
- Hoyt 1974, p. 187
- Hoyt 1974, pp. 187–8
- Hoyt 1974, p. 190
- Hoyt 1974, p. 199
- Hoyt 1974, p. 201
- Nackenoff 1994, pp. 250–7
- Hoyt 1974, pp. 207–10
- Scharnhorst 1980, pp. 44–5
- Hoyt 1974, p. 231
- Scharnhorst 1980, p. 45
- Scharnhorst 1980, p. 46
- Hoyt 1974, p. 232
- Alger 2008, p. 280
- Scharnhorst 1980, p. 47
- Hoyt 1974, pp. 19,252
- Scharnhorst 1980, p. 141
- Hoyt 1974, p. 251
- Horatio Alger Award. The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. Retrieved 2007-11-07
- Jones, Kenneth (2001-10-16). "Musical of American Innocence, Shine!, Gets Cast Album". Playbill. Playbill, Inc. Retrieved 2009-02-02.
- Shine! The Horatio Alger Musical
- Scharnhorst 1980, pp. 73–74
- Scharnhorst 1980, pp. 75–6
- Scharnhorst 1980, pp. 76–8
- Scharnhorst 1980, p. 18
- Hoyt 1974, p. 207
- Scharnhorst 1980, pp. 37–8
- Alger 1990, p. ix
- Trachtenberg 1990, pp. ix–x
- Hoyt 1974, p. 243
- Hoyt 1974, pp. 247–8
- Alger, Horatio, Jr.; Hoeller, Hildegard (Ed.) (2008). Ragged Dick. Norton Critical Editions. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-92589-0.
- Alger, Horatio, Jr.; Trachtenberg, Alan (1990). Ragged Dick. Signet Classic. ISBN 0-451-52480-2.
- Hoyt, Edwin P. (1974). Horatio's Boys. Chilton Book Company. ISBN 0-8019-5966-7.
- Nackenoff, Carol (1994). The Fictional Republic. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507923-X.
- Scharnhorst, Gary (1980). Horatio Alger, Jr. Twayne Publishers. ISBN 0-8057-7252-9.
- Scharnhorst, Gary; Bales, Jack (1985). The Lost Life of Horatio Alger, Jr. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-14915-2.
Further reading 
Published Resources 
- Nackenoff, Carol. "The Horatio Alger Myth". In Myth America: A Historical Anthology, Volume II. 1997. Gerster, Patrick, and Cords, Nicholas. (editors.) Brandywine Press, St. James, NY. ISBN 1-881089-97-5
- Scharnhorst, Gary; Bales, Jack (1981). Horatio Alger, Jr.: An Annotated Bibliography of Comment and Criticism. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-1387-8.
Archival resources 
- The Papers of Horatio Alger, 1880–1953 (990 pieces) are housed at the Huntington Library.
- H. Jack Barker Papers, undated (3 linear feet) are housed at Emory University's Manuscripts, Archives, & Rare Book Library.
- Seligman Family papers, 1877–1934 (0.8 linear feet) are housed at American Jewish Archives (Cincinnati, Ohio).
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Horatio Alger, Jr.|
- Works by or about Horatio Alger at Internet Archive (scanned books original editions color illustrated)
- Works by Horatio Alger at Project Gutenberg (plain text and HTML)
- The Complete "Ragged Dick" Series on kindle.
- Horatio Alger Books On-Line 2 18 of Alger's works (with A Fancy of Hers, unique to this collection)
- Horatio Alger Books On-Line 3 3 of Alger's works (with The Maniac's Secret, unique to this collection)
- Horatio Alger research page at the University of Rochester
- Horatio Alger Society Home Page
- The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans
- The Horatio Alger Collection at Northern Illinois University
- The Horatio Alger Fellowship for the Study of American Popular Culture at Northern Illinois University