He was born in Willesden, England and attended King's College London. He traveled extensively as a young man, visiting North America, South America, and Africa. He eventually settled in the United States, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
His book Tales from Silver Lands (1924) won the 1925 Newbery Medal. The book is a collection of stories from South America. Some of Finger's other works include Bushrangers (1924) Tales Worth Telling (1927), Courageous Companions (1929), and A Dog at His Heel (1936). His autobiography is Seven Horizons (1930).
Finger was an accomplished musician. He directed the San Angelo Conservatory of Music in Texas, from 1898 to 1904. Among his piano students in San Angelo was David Wendel Guion, who would later achieve notability for arranging and popularizing the ballad "Home on the Range."
The epitaph on Finger's gravestone reads as follows: "This voyage done, set sail and steer once more To further landfall on some nobler shore." He is buried in the Farmington, Arkansas cemetery.
- Information about Charles J. Finger. University of Arkansas. Retrieved July 3, 2006.
- Newbery Medal Books: 1922-1955, eds. Bertha Mahony Miller, Elinor Whitney Field, Horn Book, 1955, LOC 55-13968, p.37
- Max J. Puzel, Genius of Place, Louisiana State University Press, 1985, p. 17 
- Simpson, Ethel C. "Charles Joseph Finger (1867–1941)." Encyclopedia of Arkansas. (link)
- Works by Charles Finger at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Charles Finger at Internet Archive
- Charles Joseph Finger at Library of Congress Authorities — with 75 catalog records
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