Friday, July 3, 2009

Thomas Knox and juvenile Series Books- Part 1

Adventure travelogues were a popular juvenile series in the late 19th century. One of the most realistic chronicled the adventures of Frank and Fred as the Boy Travellers. This 15 volume series was written by Colonel Thomas Knox (1835-1896)

Knox was quite a traveller himself. Initially his vocation was as a school teacher/principal in Kingston, New Hampshire. After two years he quit and moved to Colorado to "dig for gold". Later he worked as a writer for two local newspapers- Rocky Mountain News and the Western Mountaineer.

He joined the California National Guard as a Lieutenant Colonel but was injured at a battle in Missouri.

After the war as an employee of the Russo-American Telegraph Company he went to Northern Asia on an expedition that was laying telegraph lines.

He embarked on a world tour in 1877. He visited with the King of Siam during that trip. Developing a relationship with the King that resulted in Knox' teaching the methods of American education to the King.

As opposed to Butterworth's Zig Zag Travel books, Knox' books were accurate to a fault. All of his facts were checked and double checked. The Boy Travellers' books were not as popular as other series travelogue books of the era perhaps because of the detailed facts packed into the books.

Harper and Bros. published these oversized (9 x7) volumes between 1879 and 1894.
Other series written by Thomas Knox included The Animal Series, Young Nimrod Series, 2 out of 4 books in the Travel Adventure Series and a book in the Boys and Girls Library of American Biography. He penned numerous other non series and adult books during his writing career.

Information on the individual series will follow.


The Boyhood of Living Authors
By William Henry Rideing
Thomas Y Crowell 1887

The Travelogue Storybook of the 19th Century Virginia Havliand
The Horn Book, Inc. 1950

James A. Wren, “Thomas Wallace Knox (26 June 1835 – 6 January 1896),” American Travel Writers, 1850-1915, Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume One Hundred Eighty-Nine, ed. Donald Ross and James J. Schramer (Detroit: A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book, Gale Research, 1998), 240.

A Bibliography of 19th Century Children's Series Books by Cary Sternick 2003


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