Ernest Thompson Seton Biography

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(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Born Ernest Thompson in South Shields, County Durham, England, on August 14, 1860, the author of Wild Animals I Have Known adapted the ancestral family name of Seton in 1901. After backing Prince Charles in the unsuccessful Stuart Rebellion of 1745, Seton's Scottish ancestors had fled south to England, where they became shipbuilders and shipowners. When the author's father, Joseph Logan Thompson, lost his merchant ships, the family immigrated to Canada in 1866. They lived for a brief period in Lindsay, Ontario, a small town surrounded by forests and an ideal site for a boy who had become fascinated with wildlife. They left the woods in 1870, but Seton had already learned many of the skills in woodcraft that would make him an acknowledged expert in the field. Seton discovered his artistic talent and began sketching birds and animals while a student in the Toronto public schools. He studied at the Toronto School of Art from 1877 to 1879 and at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in London in 1881.

In 1882 he joined his brother Arthur, who was homesteading near Carberry, Manitoba, in south-central Canada. There he found in abundance the animals that fascinated him: wolves, grizzlies, moose, and buffalo. Seton traveled to New York City in 1883 in an effort to sell his sketches to publishers and artists. Some of his first sales were to Sacket, Williams & Betzig, lithographic publishers. Seton also won a contract to produce one thousand sketches for Century Publications' new twelve-volume dictionary, and he began selling nature stories to such magazines as St. Nicholas.

After a return to Toronto in April 1884, Seton again joined his brother in Manitoba. He shuttled between Carberry, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Paris for several years, studying and producing art. His Birds of Manitoba was submitted to the Smithsonian Institution at the end of 1890, and in 1892 one of his paintings, "The Sleeping Wolf," was accepted and later hung for exhibition at the Grand...

(The entire section is 488 words.)