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Jacob Abbott

Author of  Alexander the Great

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Jacob Abbott's Bio:

Jacob Abbott (1803-1879) was possibly the most prolific American writer of juvenile literature of the nineteenth century. He was born in Maine, the second of seven children. He and each of his four brothers graduated from Bowdoin College, studied theology, and became teachers or ministers. Three of the five boys became authors, and with his brother John Charles (J.C.), Jacob authored the famous and widely read “Makers of History” series of biographies. By the time the Abbott brothers undertook this biographical series however, they were both well established authors.

After graduating from Bowden in 1820 and becoming ordained in 1826, Jacob founded a high school for girls in Boston. He wrote several books and articles during this time, but didn’t embark on his well-known ‘Rollo’ series until the mid 1830’s. He wrote one of the first set of girls books, the ‘Lucy’ series in the late 30’s. After his wife’s death in 1843 he moved to New York with his brother, and founded another high school for young ladies. He was now a prolific and established writer, and continued to produce many more books for young people as well as numerous articles, and pamphlets on child-rearing and education.

It was not until about 1848 that he and his brother embarked on the idea of doing a series of biography aimed at young people. His target audience was age "15 to 25", and the Abbott brothers eventually produced a set of biographies that were critically acclaimed, and widely read. Within a few years of their publication, the Abbott biographies became standard reference works of juvenile history, and were available in libraries throughout America. The They were originally published as the ‘Illustrated History’ series, but were republished many times during the next sixty years in various collections, entitled ‘Famous Characters of History’, ‘Famous Queens of History’, and others. They were most recently republished in the early 1900’s as the ‘Makers of History’ series.

Jacob Abbot was so prolific, that compiling a complete bibliography is nearly overwhelming. In addition to his Makers of History series, he did several other series both for boys and girls. His girl series included Cousin Lucy, (6 volumes), Franconia (10 volumes), Juno (4 volumes), and Florence (6 volumes). His boy series included Rollo In Europe, (10 volumes), Rollo (all other, 14 volumes), Jonas (4 volumes), Marco Paul Travels (8 volumes), and Rainbow and Lucky (5 volumes).

In addition to these series, he wrote at least thirty additional children’s books, as well as many books and articles regarding education for the young, directed at parents and educators. He also wrote several explicitly Christian books, teaching the tenets of Christian theology and moral instruction to the young.


[Courtesy of the Baldwin Project]