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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

This is a charming tale of growing up in 1850s New Hampshire, with enough drama to make it real and enough fun to make it enjoyable. Perhaps it was a simpler time, in any case it seems less complicated than growing up today and I enjoyed reading about it.

Finally got to read this -- no wonder the kids loved it at that age. So fun and a lot of life lessons too.

I really enjoyed this 19th-century boyhood romp through a fictionalized Portsmouth, NH. Despite it's age the writing is quite fresh and a quick read. I was distracted, though, by all the wealthy white male privilege from the boys' prospects to their treatment by law enforcement.

Twain was inspired to write about imperfect boys by this classic written by his good friend, Thomas Aldrich.
As a teacher I found it fascinating to see what a school week and curriculum was like in the 1830s.

Was Tom Bailey the prototype for Tom Sawyer et al? There is little doubt. Even Bart Simpson owes a debt to this book.

Thomas Bailey Aldrich was born in Portsmouth NH in 1836, moved with his parents to New Orleans LA, then back to his grandfather's home in Portsmouth when he was 10, then to New York a few years later after his father's death. There he became a successful writer and poet and editor of the Atlantic Mo

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 fascinatin

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, forgot

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