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The Story of a Bad Boy

Thomas Bailey Aldrich

Book Overview: 

Thomas Bailey Aldrich was a child when his father moved to New Orleans from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. After 10 years, Aldrich was sent back to Portsmouth to prepare for college. This period of his life is partly described in his semi-autobiographical novel The Story of a Bad Boy, in which "Tom Bailey" is the juvenile hero. Critics have said that this novel contains the first realistic depiction of childhood in American fiction and prepared the ground for Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Aldrich went on to associate with many of the literati of his time in New York City.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ve assumed a comical expression, for the boy in the olive-green jacket gave an hysterical laugh, for which he was instantly punished by Mr. Grimshaw. I swallowed the fiery candy, though it brought the water to my eyes, and managed to look so unconcerned that I was the only pupil in the form who escaped questioning as to the cause of Marden's misdemeanor. C. Marden was his name.

Nothing else occurred that morning to interrupt the exercises, excepting that a boy in the reading class threw us all into convulsions by calling Absalom A-bol'-som "Abolsom, O my son Abolsom!" I laughed as loud as anyone, but I am not so sure that I shouldn't have pronounced it Abolsom myself.

At recess several of the scholars came to my desk and shook hands with me, Mr. Grimshaw having previously introduced me to Phil Adams, charging him to see that I got into no trouble. My new acquaintances suggested that we should go to the playground. We were no sooner out-of-doors than . . . Read More

Community Reviews

A bit like a less-sophisticated, New England version of Tom Sawyer, this autobiographical novel has been out of print for too long. It concerns a mischievous boy who is sent to live with his grandfather in a quirky sea-side town, where he proceeds to get into a number of misadventures with friend...more

I took a trip up to Portsmouth, NH and visited Strawberry Banke which is a historically preserved site in the vein of Williamsburg, VA and Sturbridge, MA. One of the past occupants of a house wrote a book about his childhood which interested me. This was it.

In it the book characterizes what it wa...more

A thoroughly enjoyable read. Highly recommend to young readers, but they may be unfamiliar with some of the reading vocabulary (which, in general, seems to be at a much lower standard today than was expected of a young reader at the time it was written). If they (young readers) take the time to d...more

A forgotten classic. Kind of a yankee precursor to Tom Sawyer (though not the masterpiece that Sawyer is). Written by a man Mark Twain ruefully asserted was the wittiest alive, this account of a New England boyhood could not be more delightful--at least to this particular New England boy.

Hilarious and touching

This is an excellent book for children and adults should also enjoy. Some of the stories related by the author about his childhood are ao funny I found myself laughing out loud. The description of childhood during the period in the northeast before the civil war are fascina...more

Delivers more than it promised

An innocent tale cleanly told, I enjoyed the window into a world long lost but linked to the present through the adventures of a teenager

A faithful reconstruction of the author's boyhood in Portsmouth, NH, (Rivermouth) from 1849 to 1852. Times were tough, with families separated by vocational necessity, and sometimes tragic as well. I appreciated the cultural differences, where a grammar school student could be studying Latin in s...more

The most delightful book I have read in a long, long time! 150 years after it was conceived and written, I couldn't help laughing out loud and reading passages to anyone within earshot from just about every paragraph...just ask those who were within earshot while I was reading.

This is an old, for...more

"This is the story of a bad boy. Well, not such a very bad, but a pretty bad boy; and I ought to know, for I am, or rather I was, that boy myself.

Lest the title should mislead the reader, I hasten to assure him here that I have no dark confessions to make. I call my story the story of a bad boy,...more

It took me a little while to get into this book, which is written in a style I haven't had to read in a while - the New England child's story of the 1860's/70's doesn't come up a lot in my bedside book pile. There is a faint sense of Twain, and of lost moralistic books as well, in these stories o...more

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