Young Man from the Piedmont Critical Context - Essay

Leonard Wibberley

Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Wibberley’s book is unlike others that describe the youth of Thomas Jefferson in that Wibberley is especially interested in showing Jefferson’s relationship to the events and people of his time. Jefferson preferred privacy to public life, and writers often present him in that manner. Wibberley chose to emphasize Jefferson’s public efforts, however, showing him as a serious young man who was very aware of the momentous events that were under way in his lifetime. He was also willing to study languages, philosophy, history, and law to understand what those events really meant. This story is that of Thomas Jefferson as leader.

Wibberley went on to write three more volumes about Jefferson’s life: A Dawn in the Trees: Thomas Jefferson, the Years 17761789 (1964), The Gales of Spring: Thomas Jefferson, the Years 17891801 (1965), and Time of the Harvest: Thomas Jefferson, the Years 18011826 (1966). In 1968, all four books in this set were published together under the title Man of Liberty: A Life of Thomas Jefferson. Wibberley, a prolific author of books for juveniles and young adults, also wrote a series of Red Badge Detective novels under the pseudonym of Leonard Holton, as well as other young adult books under his middle names of Patrick O’Connor. Yet it is Young Man from the Piedmont and another biography, The Life of Winston Churchill (1965), for which he is best remembered.