thomas bailey aldrich poster
Reader’s photo credit: Jacqui Bally

Thomas Bailey Aldrich: The Real Tom Sawyer

The Portsmouth Puddle Dock neighborhood home where Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1836-1907) lived in his teens is open to the public, May – October. Originally from New Orleans, Aldrich resided with his grandfather in this stately home until he left to begin a career in New York. (The home was also Portsmouth’s first hospital until the Aldrich family repurchased it.) Read about it at: strawberybanke.org/houses/aldrich.cfm.

Writer and Editor

Aldrich is perhaps best known for his work entitled The Story of a Bad Boy, a semi-autobiographical account of his youth, which has been considered an inspiration for Mark Twain’s character Tom Sawyer. The story, published in 1870, can be seen here: gutenberg.org.

Later in his life, as the editor of Atlantic Monthly during its earliest heyday, he spearheaded a popular and influential literary magazine and kept company with several prestigious writers of the day, including Mark TwainHenry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Charles Chesnutt. Read more about Thomas Bailey Aldrich here: americanliterature.com/author/thomas-bailey-aldrich.

“The dead play a very prominent part in the experience of the wanderer abroad. The houses in which they were born, the tombs in which they lie, the localities they made famous by their good or evil deeds, and the works their genius left behind them are necessarily the chief shrines of his pilgrimage.” — Thomas Bailey Aldrich

Also See

Colby College in Waterville, Maine, holds a Thomas Bailey Aldrich Special Collection. Read more here: https://www.colby.edu/specialcollections/about/thomas-bailey-aldrich. Colby College enrolls approximately 2,000 students and is the 12th oldest college in the US.

Historical sites connected to a great many important figures in Portsmouth can be found on the Black Heritage Trail. See a map of those locations here: http://blackheritagetrailnh.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/DowntownPortsMap.pdf.

Acknowledgement

We thank reader and genealogist Jacqui Bally for bringing this writer’s home to our attention. For a brief history of Portsmouth Puddle Dock, click here: seacoastonline.com. The population there is approximately 22,000.

The Thomas Bailey Aldrich House is the second stop of our New Hampshire Author Adventures Trail.

Patricia Smart