Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Young Nimrods by Thomas Knox

The Young Nimrods is a two book series written by Thomas Knox and published by Harper and Brothers. The books are similar to the Boy Travellers in that they follow the adventures of two boys , in this instance, George and Harry.

The first book The Young Nimrods in North America (1881) was written to expose boys to "the ways of the hunter's life". This oversized book (9 x 7) has a cloth book appropriate cover with gold gilt. It is copiously illustrated with the pictures coming from other Harper's books.

The second book is The Young Nimrods Around the World (1882). This book again is designed to teach youngsters about natural history. In this book however the setting is the world not just North America.

These books were written contemporaneously with the Boy Travellers' Series and were not as popular as noted by the short series length.

Of interest , the word "nimrod" is defined as a skillful hunter in a humorous vein. I can honestly say I have never used this word or heard it used in conversation. Must be a 19th century thing.


  1. I agree that "nimrod" is not in common use today. It does seem to presently have a definition of a hunter or "a silly or foolish person." However, during the period of publication, the author and publisher may have also been thinking of the Biblical character Nimrod (see the Wikipedia entry).

    I have sometimes thought that it would be useful to keep a number of old dictionaries from certain decades to get a better sense of word definitions and usage in past eras. This was impractical in a physical book sense but now that Google Books and are making scanned books readily available as PDF files (sometimes searchable ones) this has new possibilities.

    Otherwise, a Google search for "define:nimrod" yields a variety of definitions from different sources.

    James Keeline

  2. I agree that he was probably thinking of the Biblical character Nimrod. I immediately thought of the 1938 Newbery Medal winner, Kate Seredy's The White Stag, which includes the story of Nimrod, the mighty hunter before the Lord. I'd never realized until reading this post and comment, that the name Nimrod might have been an alternative term for mighty hunter in nineteenth-century books. A quick look on Google Books shows that a number of nineteenth-century sporting books have Nimrod in the title as equivalent to hunter, or as a pseudonym for authors of sporting books.

    Jenny Schwartzberg
    The Newberry Library

    P.S. I'm enjoying reading through all of your blog posts!