John Townsend Trowbridge

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John Townsend Trowbridge
John Townsend Trowbridge at age 45.jpg
John Townsend Trowbridge circa 1873.
Born September 18, 1827
Ogden, New York
Died February 12, 1916
Arlington, Massachusetts
Pen name Paul Creyton
Nationality American
Genre Fiction, non-fiction, children's literature, poetry
Spouse Cornelia Warren (m. 1860, d. March 23, 1864), Sarah Adelaide Newton (m. 1873)


John Townsend Trowbridge (September 18, 1827 – February 12, 1916) was an American author born in Ogden, New York, USA, to Windsor Stone Trowbridge and Rebecca Willey. His papers are located at the Houghton Library at Harvard University.[1]

Early life[edit]

Trowbridge was born in a log cabin his father constructed through the use of wooden pegs.

Birthplace of John Townsend Trowbridge. Showing the out-door oven and the Rochester Road. Drawn by Charles Copeland, from descriptions furnished by John T. Trowbridge and his eldest sister Mrs. Greene.

Trowbridge received an unremarkable education, and after teaching and working on a farm for one year in Illinois, settled in New York City where he wrote for journals and magazines. He moved to Boston in August 1848, and in 1850, during the absence of Benjamin Perley Poore in Washington, D.C., edited Poore's paper, the Sentinel, but his editorial on the fugitive-slave law nearly destroyed the paper's popularity. He married Cornelia Warren (May 1, 1834–March 23, 1864) in 1860.

Trowbridge's house at 152 Pleasant Street, Arlington, Massachusetts

In June 1867 Trowbridge bought a house at 152 Pleasant Street, Arlington, Massachusetts where he lived until his death in 1916. Trowbridge also spent much time in Kennebunkport, Maine, where he built Spouting Rock Cottage, near to Spouting Rock and Blowing Cave, both of which he named.

Writing career[edit]

His novels include Neighbor Jackwood (1857), an antislavery novel; The Old Battle-Ground (1859); Cudjo's Cave (1864); The Three Scouts (1865); Lucy Arlyn (1866); Neighbors' Wives (1867); Coupon Bonds, and Other Stories (1873); and Farnell's Folly.Another is Evening At The Farm.

Trowbridge wrote numerous works under the pseudonym of Paul Creyton, including The Midshipman's Revenge (1849), Kate the Accomplice, or, The Preacher and the Burglar (1849), The Deserted Family, or, Wanderings of an Outcast (1853), Father Brighthopes, or, An Old Clergyman's Vacation (1853), Burr Cliff: its Sunshine and its Clouds (1853); Martin Merrivale: His X Mark (1854), Iron Thorpe (1855), Neighbor Jackwood (1857).

Among his very many juvenile tales are The Drummer Boy, The Prize Cup, The Lottery Ticket, The Tide-Mill Stories, The Toby Trafford Series, The Little Master, and the Jack Hazard series. His published volumes of verse include: The Vagabonds, and Other Poems; The Emigrant's Story, and Other Poems; A Home Idyl, and Other Poems; The Lost Earl; and The Book of Gold, and Other Poems. The Vagabonds, At Sea, Midsummer, and Guy Vernon: A Novelette in Verse are among his best-known poems.

In Darius Green and his Flying Machine, Trowbridge penned the following prophetic verse: "Darius was clearly of the opinion / That the air is also man's dominion / And that with paddle or fin or pinion, / We soon or late shall navigate / The azure as now we sail the sea."

He is today perhaps best remembered for his study *The South: A Tour of Its Battlefields and Ruined Cities* [1866, republished two years later with additions by another author as *A Picture of the Desolated States and the Work of Reconstruction, 1865-1868*]. Trowbridge toured much of the defeated Confederacy during the summer of 1865 and the following winter. He observed carefully, and talked with a wide variety of people of both sexes, including freedmen, die-hard Rebels, Unionists, farmers, businessmen, refugees, and Northern entrepreneurs. He lets them speak in their own voices, often adding his own perceptive comments. His book can profitably read with those of John Richard Dennett [*The South As It Is: 1865-1866*] and Whitelaw Reid [*After the War: A Tour of the Southern States, 1865-1866*]. All three accounts are written from the perspective of a loyal and fair Northerner, genuinely concerned about conditions in the South and the evolving policies of the United States towards that section.

From 1870 to 1873 Trowbridge was co-editor with Lucy Larcom of Our Young Folks.[2][3] Since his death he has been well known as a friend of Mark Twain and Walt Whitman.



  1. ^ J.T. Trowbridge papers: Guide at Houghton Library.
  2. ^ "TROWBRIDGE, John Townsend". Who's Who, 59: p. 1772. 1907. 
  3. ^ J. T. Trowbridge and Lucy Larcom, editors (1871). Our Young Folks. vol. 7 |url= missing title (help). 
  • Chicago Daily Tribune, John T. Trowbridge. Born Sept. 18, 1827. Died Feb. 12, 1916. J. T. TROWBRIDGE IS DEAD IN EAST Poet and Writer of Stories for Boys Expires at Ripe Age. Page 3 (February 13, 1916).
  • The New York Times, Saturday Review of Books and Art, AUTHORS AT HOME.; XLIII. John T. Trowbridge in Arlington. Page BR810, (December 3, 1898).
  • Trowbridge, John Townsend.: My Own Story: With Recollections of Noted Persons (1903).
  • Who's Who 1907 An Annual Biographical Dictionary. Page 1771, (1907).