The Heroic Life of Captain John Paul Jones is a recent gift from John Halliday, USNA Class of 1958. Boston publisher DeWolfe, Fiske & Co. issued its Heroic Series in 1902 at the price of 50 cents each. Other subjects in the series were Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and William McKinley. In business from 1880 to 1905, the company specialized in juvenilia and advertised its offerings as the finest children's literature ever produced in America.
The illustrations in this book are typical of the period of its production. Advances in color lithography made it possible for publishers to produce bright covers and pictures that were attractive to young people. The illustrator, however, has shown little concern for historical accuracy. In particular, the clothing of the little girl and her mother in the frontispiece ("The Ranger sighted at Whitehaven") is a glaring anachronism, suited to 1902 rather than 1778.
Elbridge Streeter Brooks, the book's probable author, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1846 and died in 1902. He wrote almost seventy books for young people, and from 1884 to 1887 was the editor of St. Nicholas, a children's magazine begun in 1873. Brooks' Historic Girls (1891) and The True Story of Christopher Columbus (1892) are available through Virgo, the successor to the University of Virginia's e-text center.