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, he resided with his grandfather in this stately home until leaving it 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 this community website: 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 that created a genre considered to be an inspiration for “Bad Boy” books, like Mark Twain’s character Tom Sawyer, according to the house museum’s exhibit. 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 Twain, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Charles Chesnutt. Read more about the writer and editor 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
Colby College in Waterville, Maine, holds a Thomas Bailey Aldrich Special Collection. Find more information at 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: https://blackheritagetrailnh.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/DowntownPortsMap.pdf.
We thank reader and genealogist Jacqui Bally for bringing this writer’s home and this quaint small town to the attention of Author Adventures.
On the Path
The Aldrich House is the next stop of our New Hampshire Author Adventures Trail that follows the Robert Frost stops before it in Derry and Franconia.