Francis Richard Stockton Biography


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Francis Richard Stockton was born on April 5, 1834, in Philadelphia, the third child of Emily Hepzibeth Drean and William Smith Stockton, one of what would be a family of six children in addition to his father’s seven children by a previous marriage. His mother was a school administrator and his father a conservative religious writer. Stockton was born with one leg shorter than the other, an infirmity that kept him out of the Civil War. His family was torn by divided loyalties during the war. Frank sympathized with the South and privately printed “A Northern Voice Calling for the Dissolution of the Union,” but his aged father, a fire-and-brimstone Methodist, was an avid abolitionist. Ironically, the father’s self-righteousness drove his younger sons to the opposite extreme: They became the community pranksters, and Frank in particular became so disenchanted with his father’s stern faith that he turned to an absurdist’s view of universal chaos.

Stockton attended public schools in Philadelphia, wrote some juvenile poetry, and won a prize in a story contest. After graduation from high school in 1852, he became a wood engraver and draftsman, though he kept up his literary interests as a member of the Forensic and Literary Circle. He began writing magazine stories for children and then humorous novels, stories, and sketches. During this period, he focused mainly on fairy tales, but eventually he progressed to more realistic stories, yet ones...

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(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Frank R. (Francis Richard) Stockton was a descendant of American pioneers, one of whom, Richard Stockton, had been one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The third son of nine children, he was expected to become a doctor. Instead, upon graduating from high school he studied wood engraving, at which he was proficient enough to support himself until he was thirty-two, when he decided to become a journalist. Until 1880 he specialized in children’s stories; then he began writing for adults, although the tone and the situations were not much different from his earlier works. He completed more than a dozen novels, comedies, satires, scientific speculations, and whimsies.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111207210-Stockton.jpg Frank R. Stockton. Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Francis Richard Stockton was one of the most popular American humorists of the late nineteenth century, excelling in stories of whimsical fancy, in episodic novels of domestic comedy, and in tales of the occult and supernatural. A descendant of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Stockton was the third son of William Smith Stockton and his second wife, Emily Drean Stockton. Because his physique was generally frail and because he had been born with one leg shorter than the other, young Frank was severely limited in his childhood activities. On his daily walks to school, however, he began to develop his imaginative faculties by orchestrating dramas in his mind, plotting serial tales for his personal diversion. He later noted, “I caused the fanciful creatures who inhabited the world of fairy-land to act . . . as if they were inhabitants of the real world.” Such creative strategy later came to characterize Stockton’s most successful children’s literature and science fiction.{$S[A]Fort, Paul;Stockton, Frank R.}{$S[A]Lewes, John;Stockton, Frank R.}

At Central High School in Philadelphia, Stockton won a short-story contest, an achievement which encouraged his aspirations toward an eventual career in writing. In 1852, though, when he graduated, Stockton was apprenticed to a wood engraver and for the next fourteen years worked for a living at this craft, accumulating rejection slips for his occasional forays into fiction. By 1859, he had published only two short stories. In 1860, Stockton married Mary Anne (or Marianne) Edwards Tuttle (her first name has also been spelled without the e). He then began to apply himself more vigorously to his writing, and he soon had a serialized tale accepted for publication in the prestigious Southern Literary Messenger, a journal at one time partially written and edited by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849). A brief, uncharacteristic political posture manifested itself at this time in Stockton’s life: He published a pamphlet supporting the right of the South to secede from the Union. When Fort Sumter fell, however, Stockton, a genial, amiable gentleman who actually abhorred controversy, withdrew the slender publication and, for the rest of his life, happily avoided any social or political dispute.

When Stockton published “Ting-a-Ling,” a fairy tale about a giant and a dwarf, in Riverside Magazine in 1867, he came to the attention of Mary Mapes Dodge (1831-1905), soon to be recognized as a significant force...

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(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Francis Richard Stockton was born on April 5, 1834, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A slight boy with a limp, he was a good student and won...

(The entire section is 328 words.)