Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: Alger was a writer of books for juveniles who popularized business as a career for young boys, while at the same time motivating the poor to work hard in hopes of success. Because of the popularity of his books, the story of anyone who became successful in real life became known as a “Horatio Alger story.”
Horatio Alger, Jr., traced his ancestry to Puritans who came to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621. His father, Horatio Alger, Sr., was a graduate of the Harvard Theological School and the minister at the First Congregational Church in Chelsea, Massachusetts. His mother, Olive Augusta Fenno, had married his father just ten months before the birth of Horatio, Jr. The ministerial stipend was not large; thus, the family was usually in debt. In 1844, when Horatio, Jr., was twelve, his father went bankrupt. For a time his father turned to farming but eventually went back into the ministry and later served in the Massachusetts state legislature.
Alger was a sickly child; he was nearsighted and had asthma. In 1848, at the age of sixteen, he was admitted to Harvard College. The first publication for which he received payment came in 1849 when a Boston magazine bought a poem he had penned. During his senior year, he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and he graduated in 1852. Although he immediately planned to enter the Harvard Divinity School, a writing job arose, and he decided to...
(The entire section is 1857 words.)
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